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Review: Port Charlotte An Turas Mor

20 Sep
Distillery: Bruichladdich

Bottling: Distillery
Age Statement: No Age Statement
Brand type: Port Charlotte Multi-vintage (An Turas Mor)
ABV: 46%
Price: $90-$110
Where Scotchfinder found it: Royal Mile Whiskies

Full disclosure: I have a fondness for Bruichladdich. I also am in full love with the PC series. Let us begin:

Port Charlotte – Multi-vintage
(An Turas Mor)

Nose: 22
**Sniff sniff** Mmmmm. Smells like peat. Metallic (some would call it citrusy notes) peat. Heavy metal peat… but with a weakness that the others in the series do not have. Where art thou? I’m really struggling to dig my huge nostrils into this one. When I catch it, though, yum.

Body: 22
Medium oiliness.

Taste: 21
Burst of immediate pepperiness. This one hangs out on the back of the roof of your mouth, but does not stain your mouth like the other non-multi-vintage. The smoky peat is good, but again, why so weak? I know it was reduced to 46% from the low 60%s, but it really shows. It may be more palatable at a lower alcohol level, but boy does it suffer in an overall way.

Finish: 22
The sweetness of this bad boy shows itself dancing on top of the smoky peatness. It has a fairly quick finish, though. You still feel aftershocks, but mostly as a faint rumble in the background.

I really had the highest of hopes for this one, but I feel that Jim McEwan knew what he was doing when he released this bad boy in its individual parts as PC5 through PC8. I love you, Port Charlotte. I will drink this one when I do not want to damage my lovely parental bottles.

Scotchfinder Total: 87


Review: Ardbeg Alligator 2011 Release

19 Sep

Bottling: Distillery
Age Statement: N/A
Brand type: Alligator
ABV: 51.2%
Price: $90-$110
Where Scotchfinder found itThe Party Source

Ardbeg has been showing its real willingness to take risks as well as be an advanced marketing machine. Almost all of the releases in recent years has had the trademark Ardbeg flavor which I can only assume comes mostly from their wilderness laden water source. Peat peat peat peat.

I was able to get my Ardbeg Alligator by luck through some connections and I couldn’t have been more excited to try it!

Nose: 24

Ardbeg Alligator 2011

The “Alligator” taste profile name comes from the amount of charring done to the barrel. Imagine a log thrown into a bon fire. After a little while, the log becomes very charred and has a cubed-texture that resembles alligator skin. The charring has three levels, low, medium, and alligator. The more the barrel is charred, the more the whisky is able to physically travel through the wood obtaining the flavors contained in the wood. In this case, these are used bourbon oak barrels, so one should assume the bourbon would take center stage. Not so, actually. There are hints of bourbon on the nose, but after that, the bourbon is overwhelmed by the rest of the Ardbeg Alligator contents. Lots of smoke and peat as Ardbeg normally provides.

Body: 22
It is Ardbeg . It almost never changes with these newer releases and generally does not disappoint. The only exception to this is the Ardbeg Blasda.

Taste: 24
Here is what I was looking for–something different. The first unique taste that smacks the bottom of your tongue is the cigar ash tray flavor. This sounds gross, but for some reason, it works. This taste dwindles with each sip, but I have most definitely not experienced a taste like that before! Otherwise, you are going to get the staple belt leather, tobacco, and smokey peat. Yummy yum yum!

Finish: 23
Again, this is an Ardbeg . If you have had it before, you know what I’m talking about. The finish tends to be a reverberation of everything you have already experience and unless you brush your teeth, eat an onion raw, and chug some Dave’s Insanity Sauce, you will be tasting this buddy for a while. Ardbeg‘s signature finish is probably my favorite part of all Ardbeg releases and this new addition is no exception.

If you can get your hands on one of these, I highly recommend it for any peat head!

Scotchfinder Total: 94

FOUND! Ardbeg Alligator US release!

16 Sep

‘via Blog this’

The much-coveted Ardbeg Alligator release!

You may want to snap this up if you can. They won’t be there for long, that’s for sure!!

Thanks to DC Happy Hours for the hot tip!

Ardbeg Alligator released!

8 Sep
Ardbeg Alligator at Royal Mile Whiskies (click here):

Not sure if any of you have seen this yet, but I heard about it when I visited the distillery in July when it was being bottled!

ARDBEG Alligator
Ardbeg Alligator

I am attempting to get my hands on it and I will do a full review when I can. I am VERY much looking forward to this little nipper. Stay tuned!

My New Favorite Distillery – SPOILER ALERT!!!! It’s Bruichladdich.

30 Aug
I have been a bad Scotchfinder. All of the people out there that need my assistance in finding the greatest value for their whisky cash have been accumulated fists and fists of slowly deteriorating (via inflation) greenbacks with nothing to blow it on. Well have no fear! I’m back!

I have done my best to update my scotch stash list in the right-hand bar. I did some cleaning out (goodbye, Laphroaig 15-year, Isle of Jura Superstition, Ledaig 10-year, and Longrow CV). **SINGLE TEAR**

My wife and I took an amazing trip to Scotland. D**n right. Scotland. With this in mind, I have about 1,000 posts that I could post. I could also slap you in front of a slide projector (for the kids, click here to see what a slide projector is) and make you look at all 1,000+ photos we took on the trip, too. Both seem like really bad ideas, wouldn’t you agree?

Here are the Scotch Whisky highlights in order of coolness:

  1. On my visit to Bruichladdich, I got to meet my hero, Jim McEwan. He also took us on a private tour! Why? Because THE Scotchfinder was visiting him? You’d probably have to ask him about that, but my vote is that he would say, “Who? What are you talking about??”
  2. The Bruichladdich tasting room was the most generous, impressive, welcoming, and NOT like a whisky factory where you are treated like a sheep.I spent two days on Islay. My new favorite place on Earth.
  3. I got to visit all of my favorite smoked-out distilleries: Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, and Bruichladdich.
  4. My visit to The Royal Mile Whisky Shop was a 3 hour ordeal where the staff was completely welcoming and over the top patience with the Finder dude.
  5. Edinburgh Castle visit. Speechless on this one.
  6. I visited the Talisker distillery, but ended up running into about three wild peacocks wandering along the road.
The best of the best goes to Bruichladdich for giving my wife and me such a wonderful welcome. They really made us feel special and there was really no reason in the world they had any obligation or incentive to do so. Maybe it is their charm. Maybe it is the fact that they remind me of all the 1990s rockers who swore they would never sell out (before actually selling out). From the feel at the distillery, it would take a serious financial meltdown for them to ever give in to the pressures of any other distillery out there.

Bruichladdich already has my favorite line of whiskies in existence (Jim McEwan’s PC series). Now they stole my heart.

For all of this, they are now my favorite distillery. Go ahead, ask me.

I will try my best to focus and give bits of the above events in coming postings. I really just needed to get a little warmed up!

Scotch Whisky Nosing 101

5 Aug
There are five wonderful features of drinking single-malt whisky:
  1. The color
  2. The smell (generally referred to as “the nose”)
  3. The feel in your mouth (the “body”)
  4. The taste (the “palate”)
  5. The after-taste (the “finish”)

Probably the hardest of the five for people to conquer is #2–the nose.

The first–and most overlooked–step is to use a proper glass. There are a few products on the market for you to consider, but they tend to be difficult to find and generally only available online. (See my previous posting on choosing glassware here.)

Once you have obtained a glass with some nosing potential, pour your glass.

I always recommend becoming comfortable with the smell of your whisky before sipping. I tend to almost tease myself with the aroma until I can no longer sense anything new coming from the scents. Personally, I swirl the whisky to agitate the liquor to fill the glass with a thick aroma now and then before re-administering my nose.

I go for several positions and inhalations, depending on the whisky. If the whisky is of a lighter nature (e.g. a lowland and some highlands), I will agitate the whisky thoroughly to make sure my nose has something to grab. I will then place my nose a little deeper into the glass than may seem appropriate looking to someone not sure as to what you are doing. “Is that guy trying to climb in that glass or is he trying to dip his nose into his drink?!

For an island-style whisky (e.g. Islay, Skye, Orkney, or Jura), I will place my nose more toward the tip of the glass as in the picture above in this posting.

Next, breathe in slowly and steady. Did you get a good read? If you struggle to capture any scent, move in a little closer. In contrast, if you become startled by the strength, cringe from the burn, cough, or snort whisky up your nose like an addict with issues–you may be too close. You will want to back off a little and find the sweet spot for you. Certain whiskies, such as Lagavulin 16-year, will do crazy things to your nose no matter where you place it to your nostrils. Lagavulin 16-year will sting the back of your nose the first time you have at it. Quite intriguing, really!

What do you smell? Flowers? Vanilla? Camp fire? Caramel or toffee? Dirt? Orange rinds? Car exhaust? I have heard some strange descriptions in my time. Everyone seems to pull something different and draw their own opinions, that’s for certain. One person may smell honey and heather while another may smell fruit. When you read certain reference materials from major connoisseurs, you will be amazed at the wacky things they put down as smells coming from scotch whisky.

Everyone has their own snout and you are the only one who knows how to use yours. If you have a giant honker like me, make sure you put it to good use! I could probably have my nose in a glass of my Glenmorangie 18-year Extra Rare for an entire day without taking a single sip. Delightful!

The Tale of Old Pulteney – 21-Year

31 Jul
Once upon a time, Scotch Finder received an e-mail from his trusty partner in crime regarding an excellent article she ran across while reading local newspapers online (see the article).

This magical article sparked interest in Scotch Finder and the Associate. The Associate decided that he MUST acquire all five single-malt scotch whiskies in the article (as described in the article by Garret M. Graff for The Washingtonian):

  1. Lagavulin 16-year-old—From Islay, it’s delicious, smoky, and full of peat. It pairs particularly well with cigars because of its strength.
  2. Highland Park 18-year-old—Rich and smooth with a deep amber color, full of honey with some caramel and salt.
  3. Glenmorangie Sherry Finish (aka “Lasanta”)—Hints of maple, toffee, and nuts fill this 12-year-old. Perfect for a lingering after-dinner sipping session with dessert or cheese.
  4. Old Pulteney 21-year-old—Hints of fruits and vanilla and just a touch of the sea in the finish of this Scotch from the old herring port of Wick.
  5. Ardbeg’s Uigeadail—So thick and flavorful, it’s almost chewy. This Islay whisky, its fans say, has an aftertaste measured in nuclear half-lifes. Add a few drops of water to open it up.

Let’s be honest, after reading such gushing reviews, what scotch whisky fan wouldn’t crave the experience? Plus, look how pretty the bottles are!

One little call across the river to Pearson’s Wine and Spirits in Washington, D.C. and a couple hundreds of dollars later, four of the five were obtained by my Associate without incident. Which of the four was unavailable? You guessed it…

…the elusive Old Pulteney 21-year! Dum dum dummmmm.

I make call after call and stop after stop at local Virginia ABCs, Pearson’s, and other random places I walk by that sells single-malts. Nothing. I ask each one if they could obtain this random spirit. All respond with “doesn’t look like it” or “I don’t even see that in any of my lists” or “never heard of that one. Nope not here.”

So a trip to Ohio for a wedding proves oddly lucky. A stop at an Ohio state-run Hyde Park Wine and Spirit near some friends of mine in Norwood, Ohio, resulted in the usual my becoming friends with the manager. (SIDE NOTE: I tend to stalk single-malt sections in stores and bars resulting in my becoming oddly close with proprietors, bartenders, and store managers.) After a few minutes of my inquiring about a few bottles–one being the Old Pulteney–she invites me into her office to check her computer’s stock list. Nothing shows up on the computer. “Have you tried The Party Source in Kentucky?”

1 minute later, she’s on the phone with The Party Source on my behalf. They have one last bottle in stock! They put it aside for me, I thank the HPW&S manager greatfully and head to Kentucky.

On the way down, I call my Associate and ask “Do you have $117 to blow?”

“On what?” he replies.

“The Old Pulteney 21-year.”

Without so much as a second to take a breath or thought of consideration, “Ohhhh yes.”

Fast forward to a few weeks later, we finally sit down and open the bottle for a little taste. We were expecting classic saltiness and a wonderfully complex whisky. Hard work to pay off…

*Sip sip*

We both look at each other in confusion. There were no whisky fireworks going off. There was no magical experience blowing any one’s mind. It sort of tasted like an old book.

The moral of this overblown and drawn out story is that you can search your rear off for a desirable whisky, obtain it under seemingly magical domino effect situations. But ultimately, one man’s whisky heaven can be a slap on the tongue with an old wet book for another.

Find your flavor. Once you do, your trusty buddy won’t let you down.