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
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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Whisky Review #37- Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban

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Intro – During my early days of whisky drinking I bought a sampler pack of Glenmorangie expressions. Included in this sampler pack was the 10 year old “Original” , the Lasanta (extra matured in Sherry casks), the Nectar D’or (extra matured in Sauternes casks) and the Quina Ruban (extra matured in Port casks). These extra matured expressions are  the 10 year old matured for 2 more years in another cask. After falling in love with the Laphroaig Cairdeas from 2013 which was finished in port casks and enjoying the Glen Moray Port Cask Finish, I thought I’d give this a shot. I mildly enjoy the Glenmorangie The Original but I honestly don’t recall being blown away by the Quinta Ruban when I tried it in the sampler. I was on a “port” kick when I bought this. Glenmorangie is a very light and fruity spirit. Easy to drink and enjoy. This expression is 12 years old, bottled at 46% ABV, and non chill-filtered. There is no note on the box or bottle about being naturally colored so who knows. I think I paid about $50 for this bottle.

****Reviewed neat on 09/20/2016 while listening to Sinatra – Put Your Dreams Away****

Nose – Dark fruits (overripe strawberry, dark cherries), white pepper, slightly floral, cinnamon, citrus/melon undertone (could be the Glenmorangie character coming through), slight chocolate in the background, almost a rotten dark fruit note…interesting but not off putting. The longer I smell this the more the port influence seems to fade and the Glenmorangie character comes forward.

Taste – chocolate, orange/citrus, caramel, dark fruits are not so dark now, red fruits (cherry, artificial strawberry), slightly sour, easy drinker.

Finish – short finish, chocolate, sweet fruit  but also tart, pepper

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – I am almost half way through my bottle. I remember enjoying this a lot more when I first opened the bottle. Maybe oxidation has hurt this bottle. The nose is still very enjoyable but the taste and finish fall short. I can’t recommend this expression unless you’d really like to try something port finished without a peat influence. It’s better than the Glen Moray Port Cask Finish but I’m not sure it is worth double the price. It may be a good option if you are looking for a sweet whisky that isn’t just bourbon or sherry cask matured. Maybe look for that sampler pack online and try the whole line of “extra matured” Glenmorangie expressions.

Rating – 70/100

  • Presentation – 4/5
  • Nose – 21/25
  • Taste – 23/35
  • Finish – 16/25
  • Value – 6/10

Whisky Review #36 – Springbank 12yr Cask Strength

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Intro – This sample of Springbank 12 yr Cask Strength is the third expression I have tried from the Springbank Distillery. I have also tried the Springbank 10 and Longrow Peated. I have read many good things about this expression. This release was bottled at 54.1%, natural color and un-chill filtered. I was excited when I received this sample  from my friend, Pastor Christopher Thoma over at Angels’ Portion.

****Reviewed neat & with water on 09/13/2016 while listening to some Frank Sinatra****

Nose –

(neat) – sherry sweetness, spices, grass clippings, leather, maple syrup, Funky Springbank  character comes through, overripe plums, chocolate – a bit hot on the nose.

(with water) – spiciness subsides, still very sweet, sherry sweetness comes to the front, chocolate note increases, very nice chocolate note – much better with water on the nose.

Taste –

(neat) – spicy, burnt plastic, smoke, leather, spicy chocolate, small amounts of dark fruits but not like the nose offers. – needs some water i think.

(with water) – sweeter, smoke is lessened, no burn on the tongue, hot spiciness is gone, very moreish with water, all the chocolate and fruity notes are smoother and sweeter.

Finish – Medium finish. chocolate and dark fruits. smokey leather and pencil shavings. Smoke doesn’t hang around.

Favorite Part – The Taste.

Conclusion I’d love to be able to compare this to the standard 10 yr old Springbank. I really enjoy the sherry notes throughout. It is very well integrated. Water is a must with this one. It really brings out the sweet notes. I don’t get a whole lot of smoke, which is fine because the sweet notes are so enjoyable. I highly recommend this bottle. It’s $90 around here which is a bit much for me but it would be well worth it. Springbank is a great distillery and should be experienced by all whisky drinkers.

Rating – 81/100

  • Presentation – 5/5
  • Nose – 22/25
  • Taste – 30/35
  • Finish – 18/25
  • Value – 6/10

Whisky Review #35 -Compass Box – Great King Street (Artist’s Blend)

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Intro Here it is…my first review of a blended scotch whisky. I have steered clear of blends in the past. I have to admit that I’d rather not spend money on something I am convinced I won’t like. I remember trying a miniature bottle of Johnny Walker Red and dumping it after one sip. I also remember my bottle of Islay Mist which contained rough grain whisky…it was okay but still a bit loud and hot. Not to mention you have no idea what whiskies are in the bottle. By all accounts, Great King Street is the opposite of your usual blended scotch whisky. Bottled at 43%, un-chill filtered and natural color – Great King Street goes against the norm. They even let you know exactly what you’re getting in the bottle – it’s all on their website. Check it out!

 

****Reviewed neat on 08/25/2016 from a sample from Pastor Thoma over at Angels’ Portion****

Nose light melon, sweet, white sugar, caramel, tropical fruits, sweet grass clippings, mellow ginger, white pepper. Very delicate, light and subtle on the nose. It reminds me of a rye whisky without the overwhelming rye and spiciness. With an undertone of tropical fruits. Enjoyable nose.

Taste spicy and sweet, tropical fruits with a blast of hot spiciness…white pepper towards the end. The spices mellow out with time in the glass. Not horrible but pretty uneventful for me. It hits those sweet notes from the nose but it comes across weaker on the taste. Disappointing after a very interesting nose.

Finish short finish, slight pepper..leaves nothing good or bad behind.

Favorite Part – The Nose.

Conclusion – This one was hard for me to review since I haven’t had a lot of other blends to compare it to. So basically I am comparing this to a single malt…which really isn’t fair. The nose is great but the taste is boring. The finish is also wanting. This is probably a good option for people looking for a blend to get into scotch whisky but I wouldn’t suggest it when you could get a single malt for a little more money. I commend Compass Box for their transparency and I hope to try more expressions from them in the future.

Rating – 69/100

  • Presentation -4/5
  • Nose – 23/25
  • Taste – 21/35
  • Finish – 15/25
  • Value – 6/10