Tag Archives: speyside

Benromach Imperial Proof

Distiller: Benromach. Region: Speyside. ABV: 57%. Age: 10 years. Price: $100.

I’ve liked everything I’ve tried from Benromach, a small-scale Speyside distillery owned by the great independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail. That includes their 10-year-old standard bearer, several wine cask finishes, a 15-year-old, an all-organic release, and a heavily peated bottling. But the 57% ABV Imperial Proof may be my favorite yet.

The concept behind Benromach was to recreate a “pre-1960s” Speyside style, meaning lightly peated, on a deliberately small scale. It’s Speyside’s lowest-production distillery, run by just three staff, and the facility is not only computer-free, it doesn’t even have pressure gauges. Maturation is done exclusively in first-fill bourbon and sherry casks–a rarity, and a sign they don’t cut corners.

The Imperial Proof ups the ante on everything I like about the standard 10-year-old, but it doesn’t stop there. The nose is salty and pungent, with a little wet barn/boathouse funk. Organic. Alive. There’s sweetness here too, particularly with a few drops of water: Werther’s coffee-flavored caramels.

All these notes explode on the palate–with very little heat at full strength–along with the tarry smoke I love in other Benromachs. Takes water well. Chocolate syrup and bourbon fruits on the finish.

Even a taste of this is memorable. Now I’ve got to find myself a full bottle. Cheers, friends! – BO

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

Feature photo from Benromach via whiskey__in_the_jar.

Glen Grant 18 Review

Distillery: Glen Grant. Region: Speyside. ABV: 43%. Age: 18 years. Price: $150.

After having tasted the wonderful new Glen Grant 12-year-old a few weeks ago, I was eager to try the distillery’s newly launched 18-year-old. These two bottlings, together with a separate non-chill-filtered 12-year-old expression, are replacing the previous Glen Grant 10- and 16-year-old in the U.S., complete with a welcome packaging update.

And now that Jim Murray has named the 18-year-old his 2017 Scotch Whisky of the Year and the second-best whisky in the world, it’s bound to get a lot more attention.

Like the new 12-year-old, the 18 has an aroma of delicate orchard fruits, but there are also deeper notes of sweet vanilla, caramel and oak here too. The creamy palate is layered with lighter vanilla and lemon citrus notes mixed with darker fruit–think raisins–and oaky spice. The spice and sweetness lingers on the long, crisp finish.

I really enjoyed the multiple layers of the Glen Grant 18. It’s approachable and light, but it also allows you to explore deeper and darker notes than the 12-year-old. The price tag of $150 is steep for an 18-year-old, but I’d recommend trying this new Speyside, especially in a side-by-side tasting with the 12.

Cheers! – JTR

Buy Glen Grant whisky online at Mash + Grape

Glen Grant kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Feature photo from instagram.com/fireangel80

Glen Grant 12 Review

Distiller: Glen Grant. Region: Speyside. ABV: 43%. Age: 12 years. Price: $50.

I’ll be completely honest–I was more than a little jealous when I saw Axis cohort BO’s post last week of the 16-bottle vertical tasting of Glen Grant he experienced. Those guys on the West Coast always seem to take their whisky tastings to a different level.

That post also made me even more excited to try the newly launched Glen Grant 12 year old for myself.

Founded in 1840, the legendary Glen Grant has a long history of producing whisky in the Speyside region of Scotland. Its master distiller, Dennis Malcolm, has spent the last 55 years perfecting his craft, and became a legend in his own right when Queen Elizabeth recently anointed him Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

So how is his new 12-year-old expression?

The nose reminds me of walking past the fresh fruit stands at the local farmer’s market, where the aroma of freshly picked apples mixes with apricots and peaches. On the light palate are more fruit notes, with the addition of oranges and lemons. These are balanced with a lovely floral bouquet and very subtle spice. The sweet finish lingers as I raise my glass in congratulations to Dennis for his achievement.

This is a great Speyside at a reasonable price point, and makes me eager to try the new 18-year-old soon. Cheers! – JTR

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

Glen Moray Port Cask Finish Review

Glen Moray Port Cask Finish – Distiller: Glen Moray. Region: Speyside. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Price: $25-28.

There are certain whiskies that seem meant to be consumed in the solitary part of your afternoon. The kind of dram that brings comfort and warmth after, say, an extended hike, or a presentation that drained you. A drink that is the only companion you’ll need while you recharge. One of those for me, ever since a lovely late afternoon in Edinburgh’s Bow Bar, has been Glen Moray.

This Speyside distillery has been producing whisky since 1897, and continues to produce quality whiskies at an insane value. This Glen Moray Port Cask Finish, for example, which takes the Glen Moray Classic (aged for an average of 7 years) and ages it for 8 months in a Tawny Port cask, goes for about $25 in the Chicago area. For that price, I wasn’t expecting much, but as I sipped while preparing to review, I found myself almost falling for this whisky.

The color is a pale amber, akin to an apple cider. It has a nose of toasted vanilla and light oak, along with hints of leather, dark cocoa, and berries. The palate is lemon zest, toffee, and cinnamon–and yes, a definite touch of wine. And the finish, which is easily my favorite part, is lingering, sustained. It releases honey, spice, and rich chocolate, and remains long after the last sip has been consumed.

I highly recommend letting the drink breathe a bit before drinking, but it’s a rewarding, affordable, and quite interesting single malt.

Here’s to new discoveries, friends! – TM

Buy Glen Moray whisky online at Mash + Grape

Stronachie 18 Review

Producer: A.D. Rattray. Distiller: Benrinnes. ABV: 46%. Age: 18 years. Price: $80.

Wow! Liked this so much I hesitated to post–at least before I had a chance to grab of one the few bottles of it left at K&L Wines. But it’s all about spreading the love–and if somebody else snaps them up first, they may find a new favorite.

Stronachie was founded in the 1890s, and produced a distinctive Highland single malt until 1928, distributed by Dewar Rattray. When the modern A.D. Rattray set out to revive the brand, they found a 1904 vintage bottle and tried to match the profile. They settled on malt from Benrinnes, finished in a mix of bourbon and sherry.

They release a 10-year-old under the Stronachie name, as well as this, the 18-year-old. I’ll let you know when I can do a side-by-side with the 1904 vintage. In the meantime, I’ll say this 18 is a stunner. Robust malt on the nose, wildflower honey, dandelion stems. Palate: spiced orange marmalade, buttery tea biscuits, full mouthfeel. Long finish with bourbon barrel spice. Love it.

Here’s to unexpected discoveries, friends! – BO

Craigellachie 19 Review

Distiller: Craigellachie. ABV: 46%. Age: 19 years. Region: Speyside. Price: $135.

Hot damn, that’s a good-looking bottle.

Our look at John Dewar & Sons’ Last Great Malts line continues (see the Royal Brackla 12 review as well) with a Duty Free-only release from Craigellachie, whose more common 13-year-old release is one of my favorite daily drinkers.

This 19-year-old release is bottled at 46%, and it’s more enigmatic than its little brother. Takes some time to come together. But for me, it sure does.

Nose: smoked honeycomb. White chocolate. Some sweet organic life–wet leaves?–and pink grapefruit. Palate: a little wild, a little sulphuric. This ain’t a beginner’s whisky. Juicy malt. Nice mouthfeel. Then that grapefruit again, grilled and salted like a starter at a hipster foodie brunch. Finish: white smoke and vanilla Torrone candy.

A bit of an oddball, this one, but lovable as hell. Cheers, friends! – BO

Buy Craigellachie online at Mash + Grape