Whisky Review #43 – Talisker Storm

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Intro – 40 reviews since I reviewed Talisker 10 we have the no age statement (NAS) Talisker Storm. Recently this expression has dropped in price big time….sales must have been lagging.  I picked it up for around $30 so I figured even if it was a weak offering I wouldn’t be out much cash. Bottled at 45.8% – colored and chill filtered as far as I know. The bottle says “An intense Talisker” which makes sense since younger peated whiskies usually display a stronger smoke character.

****Reviewed neat while listening to my Def Leppard Pyromania LP.****

Nose – rotten apples,  brine, classic  Talisker character, light on the smoke, an old band-aid laying on the coast, not as peppery as I remember the 10 year being, a dusty gravel road (reminds me of the smell of my parents gravel alley) sweetness underneath (caramel, vanilla, light fruits…typical bourbon matured notes) – dusty and dirty sawdust. Easy to nose…no burn.

Taste – very sweet up front, caramel, sugar, slightly fruity, here comes the pepper…and now it’s gone. Taste follows the nose but it’s a tad weak. It has definitely lost a bit of punch since I opened it.

Finish – unpleasant sweetness, smoke, pepper, some wood. – short finish.

Favorite Part – The nose.

Conclusion – I wouldn’t call it “An Intense Talisker” but I wouldn’t call it a bad Talisker either. Not as much pepper, brine and smoke as the 10 year old but those notes are still there. It’s more like Talisker Breeze. Definitely not as complex as the 10 year old but for $30 I think it’s worth it. The old price of $60 was a joke and I’m glad Diageo came to their senses. It was a lot more punchy when I first opened it so watch the level in the bottle. While I have enjoyed it I think in the future I will probably spend the extra money and get the 10 year old. It you like smoke and would like to try a Talisker I’d say go for it.

Rating68/100

  • Presentation – 3/5
  • Nose – 17/25
  • Taste – 25/35
  • Finish – 14/25
  • Value – 9/10

Whisky Review #42 – Laphroaig Triple Wood

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Intro – I have had many different expressions from Laphroaig. Triple Wood was the 4th expression that I tried. I started with the standard 10 year, then went to Quarter Cask, then the 10 year old Cask Strength before trying the Triple Wood. Triple Wood is matured like  Quarter Cask but is finished in sherry casks for added complexity. Bottled at 48% and Non-Chill Filtered. No Age Statement. Nothing noted on the bottle about added coloring so we can assume they color this one to keep it consistent. Retails around $55-$60 in my area.

****Reviewed neat on 12/15/2016****


Nose – deep caramel, heavy sherry, minty…reminds me of a crisp winter morning, medicinal, smoke, light pepper, overripe berries, minty toothpaste mixed with glue, smoked dark fruits, vanilla and caramel flows throughout with sherry dancing in & out, dusty garage smells in the middle of winter. Spectacular nose.

Taste – sweet, caramel, quick dark fruits, super sweet sherry blast, spicy, dark chocolate,smoke

Finish – pepper, smoke, sweet wood, slight sherry undertones that only contribute – they do not dominate. classic Laphroaig finish.

Favorite Part – The Nose. *50+ whiskies into my whisky journey…this is my favorite nose.*

Conclusion – Triple Wood is my favorite expression from Laphroaig’s standard line. Some people don’t rate it too highly but for some reason it ticks all the right boxes for me. The sherry is not dominate but it adds interesting and complex notes to the Laphroaig character. Even though it is made the same way Quarter Cask is, it doesn’t have that overly woody character to it that turns me off so much with Quarter Cask. It reminds more of the 10 year then the Quarter Cask because of the sweetness and caramel. Non Age Statement whisky can be good…it can even be a favorite.

Rating91/100

  • Presentation – 4/5
  • Nose – 25/25
  • Taste – 32/35
  • Finish – 22/25
  • Value – 8/10

Whisky Review #41 -Ardbeg 10

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Intro – Ardbeg 10 was the first smoky whisky I ever tried. I purchased it after my first bottle – Tomatin 12 and my second bottle – Glenfiddich 12. I did my research and found that Ardbeg 10 was a highly recommended smoky whisky from the Islay region of Scotland. Back then I found it quite ridiculous to pay $50 for a bottle of liquor. Fast forward 2 years and I only wish I could find a bottle I want to try for under $50. Back then I remember being blown away by Ardbeg 10 and it really launched me into my whisky journey. This is my 2nd bottle of Ardbeg 10 which I picked up in an “Exploration Pack” which came with a sample bottle of Ardbeg Corryveckan and Ardbeg Uigeadail. Click those links for the reviews. Ardbeg 10 is between $45-$50 in my area. 46% ABV, Non Chill-Filtered and Natural Color.

****Reviewed neat on 12/01/2016****


Nose – citrus, cream, custard, white pepper, smoke, medicinal, mint, soft vanilla and caramel, light and delicate fruit notes…surrounded by cream & smoke. Easy to nose with no strong alcohol burn. I could smell this for 30 minutes before taking a sip. Complex, intriguing and enjoyable nose.

Taste – vanilla cream, very sweet arrival, thicker fruit notes then the nose but lighter on the citrus…there is a darker fruit I can’t pick out, a lot of pepper, caramel, licorice, smoke, easy to sip…slight burn.

Finish – pepper, smoke, slightly sweet but the smoke dominates. medium finish.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – While the taste does follow the nose for the most part, it falls short in my opinion. I usually get a lot more out of the nose of a whisky then the taste, this one is no different. That said it is very tasty and easy to sip. I find it to be much lighter then Laphroaig 10 and with more delicate fruit notes. The complexity on the nose is great but the taste doesn’t compare to the taste my favorite standard Islay whisky, Laphroaig 10. Ardbeg 10 is priced well and gives a great show. I have no problem recommending it to people who want to try a smoky whisky from Islay. Ardbeg 10 probably won’t ever be a staple in my whisky cabinet but it is well worth the experience.

Rating – 80/100

  • Presentation – 5/5
  • Nose – 22/25
  • Taste – 27/35
  • Finish – 18/25
  • Value – 8/10

Whisky Review #40 – Laphroaig 18

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Intro – The oldest whisky I have ever purchased. I did taste the 25 and 32 at a recent Laphroaig Tasting. When I originally bought this bottle I thought…An 18 year old Laphroaig, it has to be amazing. I have learned through the first few years of my whisky journey that age doesn’t always mean it’s better. It doesn’t mean you’ll like something more just because it’s older. It depends on many things…the spirit, the distillery, the casks and your personal tastes. But since it is a Laphroaig the chances are good I will love it. Bottled at 48%, non-chill filtered but colored. I think I paid about $85-$90.

****Reviewed neat on 10/29/16****

Nose – light/under ripe red fruits, strawberry chewing gum, mint, chocolate undertones, soft & fruity, sweet pepper, smoke is contributing but not dominating. delicate nose. The Laphroaig character is all there…smoke, licorice, seaweed, sea salt…but it’s very light and hard to find. That really let’s the fruitiness shine through.

Taste – sweet and spicy arrival, gentle and light…not the usual Laphroaig assault on your taste buds, caramel, licorice, red fruits are in and out, chocolate, pepper, vanilla and more caramel towards the end. Not very smokey to me – it’s there but it’s very light.

Finish – medium finish, pepper, licorice, smoke, slight caramel but besides that nothing else sweet on the finish.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – A great whisky which would probably be enjoyed more by someone who likes a small amount of smokiness in their whisky. This would be a great introduction for someone who wants to explore Laphroaig. All the characteristic Laphroaig notes are there but are more approachable. It’s become painfully obvious that I enjoy younger Laphroaig. The 18 year old is easy to drink and gives a great performance. Maybe it’s too delicate for my brain to figure out? Maybe when I see that Laphroaig bottle I just want to be abused by smoke? Would I buy another bottle? Probably not. For $90 I could get a 10 year old and Triple Wood. Maybe years from now age will matter more. Right now it doesn’t…at least not with my Laphroaig.

Read my Laphroaig 15 review right here.

Or check out my comparison of the 15 & 18  HERE!

Rating – 80/100

  • Presentation – 4/5
  • Nose – 23/25
  • Taste – 31/35
  • Finish – 17/25
  • Value – 5/10

Whisky Review #39 – Laphroaig Quarter Cask

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Intro – Considered by many whisky drinkers to be one of the strongest expressions from Laphroaig. Quarter Cask is a No Age Statement (NAS) whisky which has been matured in standard ex-bourbon and then transferred to smaller quarter casks. These smaller casks allow for quicker maturation. Bottled at 48% and unchill-filtered. Nothing on the packaging about being natural colored so I assume they add color. This was my 2nd expression of Laphroaig after having the standard 10 year old. This is my 2nd bottle of Quarter Cask I have purchased. $45 to $50 in my area.

****Reviewed neat on 10/19/2016****

Nose – vanilla, smoke, caramel, wood, dusty apples, licorice, sweet grass, pepper, dirty rubber tires – Nice balance of sweet and smoke.

Taste – sweet, spicy, vanilla, woody, pepper, smoke, caramel, young and in your face, taste bud abuser – Not as sweet on the taste as the nose.

Finish – licorice, a lot of wood, pepper, smoke – shorter finish then I expected.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion –  The nose is very balanced and enjoyable. The sweet notes mingle well with that smokey Laphroaig character. The taste has the same notes as the nose but they are not as intense. The taste is still very enjoyable. The finish is quite short to me…maybe because I drink a lot of smokey whisky. One thing I don’t enjoy about this whisky compared to the standard 10 year old is the overly woody finish. Its almost a sickly wood finish. It’s the same flavor I get in what I would call “over-oaked” whisky. Meaning they left the whisky in the quarter casks too long…that’s just my opinion. I prefer the 10 year old to the Quarter Cask.  I’d love to see a 6-8 year old Laphroaig matured in ex-bourbon with no quarter casks involved. I recommend this if you like smokey whisky. It is priced well, consistent and highly regarded.

 

Rating –  79/100

  • Presentation – 4/5
  • Nose – 21/25
  • Taste – 28/35
  • Finish – 18/25
  • Value – 8/10

Whisky Review #38 – Hibiki Japanese Harmony

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Intro – A sample from my friend  Pastor Christopher Thoma over at Angels’ Portion. This is the first Japanese whisky I have ever tasted. I was looking forward to reviewing it as I would likely never buy a Japanese whisky. At least not this point in my whisky journey. My Scotch Whisky snobbery is on full display there. This expression is a blend of Japanese malt and grain whiskies from Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita. If anything it will be an education and great experience. Bottled at 43%. This bottle sells for $65 in my area.

Nose – sugary glue, melon, tropical fruits, vanilla, pencil shavings, floral, light rye whiskey, light candy sweetness with glue undertones – it really reminds me of a rye whisky without the spiciness but has floral and lighter sweet notes. Easy to nose – no alcohol burn.

Taste –sweet, floral, outstanding mouth feel…velvety. slightly spicy and grassy. a light floral taste with one of the best mouth feels I have ever experienced. The taste follows the nose for the most part.

Finish – wood, light spice, fruity, sweet – bland but inoffensive- short length.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – I have to say this is whisky is very nice. This would be a great sweet whisky to have on hand to compliment sweet sherry cask matured whiskies. The mouth feel is incredible. The nose is engaging and taste is sweet/moreish. The finish really disappoints but with such a light character you can’t expect much. I would personally not pay $65 for this bottle but I wouldn’t turn down a glass.

****Be sure to pick up Pastor Thoma’s new book – The Angels’ Portion, Volume 2: A Clergyman’s Whisk(e)y Narrative .****

Rating – 66/100

  • Presentation – 2/5
  • Nose – 17/25
  • Taste – 27/35
  • Finish – 16/25
  • Value – 4/10

 

Laphroaig Whisky Tasting – 2016

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Last night I attended my first whisky tasting. I usually enjoy drinking whisky in the solitude of my own home. That said,  even the introvert in me couldn’t pass up an opportunity this special. Ace Spirits out of Hopkins Minnesota was hosting a Laphroaig Tasting in which I was able to sample 8 different expressions from Laphroaig. Some of which I already have a lot of experience with and some that I would never be able to afford. I also got some sweet Laphroaig swag which is pictured above. Not to mention the distillery manager John Campbell was there to explain the whiskies and answer questions. Along side Mr. Campbell was the Brand Ambassador, Simon Brooking. Simon made the night even more enjoyable with his toasts and whisky knowledge. Here is a short review of the whiskies and the night in general. ***These notes are not to be taken too seriously since the tasting was somewhat rushed and I had a hard time nosing with all the cigar smoke in the air. Also after that many smokey whiskies my taste buds were shot.***

The Whisky.(in the order they were tasted)

  1. 25 year old Cask Strength – Reminded me of a cross between the 15 year old and the 18 year old. Somewhat tart, sour pineapple/tropical fruit notes but smoothed out with older, softer, and fruitier Laphroaig. If I remember correctly, John Campbell said something about pineapple cheese??? So that seems right – sour tropical fruits with a cheesy smoothness.
  2. 32 year old – My first thought after nosing and having a few sips was – Bowmore 15 Darkest without that fishy Bowmore character…with some Laphroaig mixed in. I remember really liking the finish but I don’t recall what kind of flavors I was getting off it.
  3. Select – I have an open bottle of this at home. I have already reviewed it. Click for the review!
  4. QA Cask – I was excited when they announced that we were going to get to try a Travel Retail expression that is not available in the states. I was hoping for the PX Cask but I shouldn’t complain. QA Cask reminded me of Select without the ashy finish. QA Cask just enforced the fact that I dislike American white oak casks (Virgin Oak). I’m fine with this one staying in Travel Retail.
  5. 10 year old – One of my favorite bottles of whisky. I have bought more bottles of Laphroaig 10 then any other whisky. I have an open bottle at home right now so I will try to review it soon. In my opinion, the 10 year old is one of the best standard Islay whiskies out there.
  6. 2015 Cairdeas – I have an open bottle of this at home. I have already reviewed it. Click here for the review!
  7. 2016 Cairdeas – I have an open bottle of this at home. I have not reviewed it at this time. I have to say,  I really love Laphroaig with wine cask influence. The 2013 Cairdeas is still my all-time favorite and I love the Triple Wood. The 2014 Cairdeas wasn’t my favorite but was still enjoyable. The few glasses of the 2016 I have had have been great. Very interesting stuff going on. I will review it soon and add my thoughts.
  8. Lore – The last whisky of the night was Lore. I am pretty sure at this point my taste buds were shot. It’s also possible that I had mentally checked out at this point. I had also had 7 whiskies before this. I would like to give Lore the benefit of the doubt. However, the nose was lacking and the taste didn’t tick any of the normal Laphroaig boxes. I probably won’t be buying a bottle but please feel free to send me one as a gift.

 

My Whisky Rankings. **Please keep in mind that I don’t consider this a true representation of what I think of these whiskies as I was not in my usual whisky tasting setting. However, I do think this is pretty close to how I would rank them.**

  1. 2016 Cairdeas
  2. 32 year old
  3. 25 year old
  4. 2015 Cairdeas
  5. 10 year old
  6. Select
  7. Lore
  8. QA Cask

 

The Overall Experience.

I had a great time at this whisky tasting. Even for an antisocial guy like myself it was really fun. All that great whisky from Laphroaig sure helped too.  Ace Spirits did a great job of hosting. I can tell the management and staff there take whisky and spirits seriously. From the whisky, to the food, to the education from the guys from Laphroaig…it was a great time.  I highly recommend you check out Ace Spirits if you are in the Hopkins area. You can also order from them online. They are also on Facebook so you can keep track of future whisky tasting events.