Tag Archives: highlands

Macallan Edition 2 Review

Distiller: Macallan. Region: Highlands. ABV: 48.2%. No age statement. Price: $80-100.

I think I’ve got a new favorite Macallan. Got an overdue taste of the excellent Edition No. 2 with my friends at Jay’s Bar recently. I’d heard raves about this no-age-statement release from Mark  good folks at Scotch ‘n’ Sniff and Malt Review. Now I know why.

The Edition No. 2 is a collaboration between Macallan Whisky Maker Bob Dalgamo and Catalonia’s legendary El Cellar de Can Roca restaurant. In terms of profile, it’s square in Macallan’s sweet spot: dense sherried goodness balanced by just the right amount of darker, drier tannic notes.

On the nose there’s blood orange, marzipan, marshmallow, sweet old oak, and a whisper of mint. The palate adds sponge cake, toasted coconut macaroons, candied ginger, and fig. Full body. The finish has clove-studded Christmas orange with musty grapevine and more sweet oak.

BIG success, this one. Looking forward to adding a bottle to my collection–and trying it alongside the Edition 1.

Slàinte, whisky friends! – BO

Oban 14 Review

Distiller: Oban. Region: Highlands. ABV: 43%. Age: 14 years. Price: $60-70.

Oban is part of Diageo’s Classic Malts line, and is beloved in the U.S. for being rich, versatile, and approachable. And for being easy to pronounce.

Chicago’s weather calls for very specific whiskies in the spring, and I’d say the Oban 14 fits the bill perfectly. The nose has gentle heather, with hints of toffee, pine, and pear. The palate is more of this gentle wash, with an underlay of pan drippings. And the sustained finish is a minor miracle, one that grows in strength, only to ease away for a rolling delight. It’s one of my faves and fits our ever-changing weather beautifully.

If you’re looking to explore the distillery further, there’s an excellent annual Oban Distiller’s Edition, as well as a no-age-statement Little Bay, which has both fans and detractors. We’ll bring you a review of the latter soon.

Slàinte, friends! – TM

Virginia Highland Malt Whisky Review

Producer: Virginia Distillery Company. Distiller: undisclosed Highland distillery. Region: Highlands. ABV: 46%. No age statement. Price: $50-55.

The Virginia Distillery Company is tucked away in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains, which, as you know if you’ve been there, is one of the most preposterously idyllic spots on earth. They’re currently maturing the American single malt they’re distilling themselves, which I’m already eager to try given that it’s aging in ex-bourbon barrels, as opposed to the overwhelming preponderance of virgin oak maturation among other American single malts.

In the meantime, they’re also sourcing Highland malt from an undisclosed Scottish distiller and finishing it in Virginia port barrels. The result is their Virginia Highland Malt Whisky.

It has a very appealing traditional Highland nose, one I’d put somewhere between Tomatin and Aberlour: Red Delicious apple, stewed pear, and butterscotch.

The palate immediately restrains the sweeter notes in a broad tannic grip–a great compliment to the fruit core. Texture and substance to the body. Hints at a sherry notes, but the port inclines things more toward raspberry and cranberry than raisin and fig. Dried orange rind late on. The finish is nicely lingering, with blackberry tea.

The Virginia Distillery Company has a winner on their hands here. And it should get some more attention after being lauded in the 2017 Whisky Magazine awards. The only downside is how high they’ve set the bar for their own single malt. Luxury problems, as they say.

Cheers, friends! – BO

The Virginia Distillery Company graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Chieftan’s Choice Single Malt Reviews

There comes a time in every whisky-lover’s education when independent bottlers are key. Maybe you’ve exhausted a favorite distillery’s official bottlings and want to dig in further. Maybe you want to see how different a given distillery’s spirit can be when it’s in someone else’s hands (and barrels). Maybe you just love the oddballs.

Independent bottlers take a range of approaches. Some buy odd barrels of mature whiskies that happen to be up for grabs, bottle them, market them, and that’s that. Some add their own finishes. Gordon & MacPhail, of which I’m quite fond, acquires new-make spirit, then matures and finishes in their own barrels, allowing a broader look at what a distillery can do than a brand’s own bottlings can. Some add a teaspoon of cask debris to each bottle for extra authenticity–looking at you, Blackadder.

The Chieftan’s Choice line from Ian MacCleod (owner of Glengoyne, Tamdhu, and many blended whisky brands) focuses on rarities, including little-known or closed distilleries. They’ve been showing up more and more in my neck of the woods these days, and I’m happy to share a look at some recent releases, because I’ve been more than happy to try them.

Chieftan’s Bowmore 2002. Region: Islay. ABV: 46%. Age: 13 years.

Bowmore’s official distillery bottlings have been devilishly inconsistent in recent years–which makes it particularly enjoyable to see the Islay brand in fine form here.

Nose of lime taffy. Toasty pie crust. Watermelon. Just a hint of brine. The watermelon shades into cantaloupe on the palate. The peat is sooty, but with some hickory savor. It intensifies on the finish–long and salty. A squeeze of fresh lemon over hot coals at the end.

Chieftan’s Linkwood 1991. Region: Speyside. ABV: 46%. Age: 24 years.

Diageo pours much of Linkwood’s output into the Johnnie Walker and White Horse blends, so with the exception of an occasional official bottling, Linkwood is most often seen in independent bottlings like these.

Brilliant nose on this one. Bright raspberry. Honey. Cotton candy. Baked pear in Chardonnay. Orange sherbet. Fragrant oak. Lots going on. The palate is rich and lively, with the same constant evolution: fresh nuances of fruit and spice around a core of berry compote and bitter orange. Just enough tannic backbone. The tannins are stronger leading into the finish. It’s earthy and spicy, but with a final touch of sweetness: stewed strawberries on a buttery baguette. Lovely.

Chieftan’s Glenturret 1990. Region: Highlands. ABV: 49.7%. Age: 25 years.

Here come the big guns. The highest-proof of the bunch, and packing a big PX punch. If you haven’t had Edrington-owned Glenturret as a single malt, you may have had it in the Famous Grouse blend. On its own, at the ripe old age of 25, and finished in Pedro Ximenez casks, it’s quite a different animal.

Explosive butter bomb of a nose from the PX. Wow. Dense and intense. Bundt cake with blackberries. Cinnamon bark. Sea salt. French toast drizzled with blackberry brandy. Old parchment. Palate is no less intense. Musty blackberries with the vine and the leaves thrown in for good measure. Fresh sweet tobacco soaked in cognac. After all this, the finish is surprisingly elegant, like the end of a cocktail with Dolin rouge and singed orange rind.

Excellent stuff from Chieftan’s. Their other current releases include a 19-year-old Glen Grant PX Finish, a 19-year-old Glenrothes PX Finish, and a 23-year-old Glen Keith. I can’t speak for those three, but this trio was a delight.

A Chieftan’s representative graciously provided samples for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

AnCnoc Cutter Review

Distiller: Knockdhu. Region: Highlands. ABV: 46%. No age statement. Price: $55-75.

For me, one of the marks of a first-class distillery is getting the basics right. AnCnoc (the brand of the Knockdhu distillery) is one that does. Their standard 12-year-old is one of the best buys out there for an everyday Highland.

That makes it all the more fun to see their experiments pay off. Cutter is part of anCnoc’s growing Peaty Line, which started with four no-age-statement releases and is now up to seven. All are relatively lightly peated (9-20.5 ppm, vs. 55-65 ppm for Ardbeg 10) and bourbon-matured. The Cutter rings in at 20.5 ppm.

Strong split vanilla bean on the nose. Then toasty malt–malt balls, malted milk. Fruit notes follow: first brandy-soaked poached pear, then shading toward tropical, particularly coconut.

The palate is fresh, on the young side, but substantial enough, no rawness. No brine. The peat is noticeable but gentle, with some of the sweetness and sophistication of Caol Ila, though less citrus. Chocolate cream with roasted peanuts and a sprinkling of toasted coconut. The finish is a warm caramelized pie crust bottom.

AnCnoc does it again. The Cutter should definitely be a part of the distillery’s permanent lineup. And I’ll definitely be trying the rest of the series.

Slàinte, friends! -BO

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Glencadam 15 Review

Distillery: Glencadam. Region: Highlands. ABV: 46%. Age: 15 years. Price: $80-85.

Interesting to get a taste over the holidays of this lesser-known Highland single malt: Glencadam. Once a major component in Ballantine’s and Teacher’s, it is now mixed into the blended whiskies of current owner Angus Dundee. Their single malt lineup includes a 10, a 15, and a 21-year-old. I tried the middle of the pack.

The nose has a nice balance of freshness and maturity, with strong apple, vanilla, caramel, and raisin. The sherry influence is clear but balanced. Recalls the Aberlour 12 Non-Chill Filtered. The sherry fruits are strong and sweet on the palate, offset by some mild oak spice. Strawberry syrup, caramel toward the end. The spice grows and diffuses on the medium-long finish, with a hint of golden raisin and barrel char.

Overall, a very pleasant Highland that fans of the milder Aberlours should enjoy. Won’t knock you out with power or complexity, and the price is a bit steeper than I’d like, but I’d welcome a dram any night of the week.

Slàinte, friends! – BO