Tag Archives: speyside

Glen Moray Port Cask Finish Review

Distiller: Glen Moray. ABV: 40%. No age statement. Region: Speyside. 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 single malt 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

Benromach 10 & Sassicaia Wood Finish Review

Benromach 10 – Distiller: Benromach. ABV: 43%. Age: 10 years.  Region: Speyside. Price: $50.

Benromach Sassicaia Wood Finish – Distiller: Benromach. ABV: 45%. Age: 9 years. Region: Speyside. Price: $60-70.

There’s a lot to love in the current Benromach lineup. The 15-year-old (review here) and the Imperial Proof were two of my favorite drams of 2015. The distillery, revitalized by Gordon & MacPhail during the 1990s as they sought to expand from independent bottling to distilling as well, emphasizes its smallness. It’s the lowest-production working distillery in Speyside, even after doubling capacity recently, and is operated entirely by three people. The brand is also focuses on its “pre-1960s Speyside” profile, by which they mean lightly peated. (That applies to all but the more robust Peat Smoke bottling.)

Benromach has also mixed things up with some limited wine cask finishes, the latest of which is a Sassicaia finish–a Bordeaux-style Tuscan red. To appreciate the particular qualities the finish brings, I tasted the Sassicaia Wood Finish alongside the standard Ben 10.

I can say without hesitation that the 10 is a first-rate daily drinker. The nose leads with sweet bourbon fruits, especially pear. There’s also cinnamon stick, raw ginger, and a little grapefruit. On the palate, the touch of peat adds great warmth, pointing up the flavors of baking spice and buttery malt biscuits. The body is relatively light. The peat extends the medium-dry finish very nicely.

The 9-year-old Sassicaia adds a few more proof points (bottled at 45% ABV) and has a gorgeous rosy-orange tint in the glass. The nose has more vanilla bean and custard than the 10, with a floral note too: violet? Lavender? The palate adds orange blossom to the 10’s profile, with the peat a bit lighter, and a drier oak on the finish.

A welcome variation on a great new standard, and a relative rarity with just 3,500 bottles made.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Benromach graciously shared samples with us for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Balvenie Tun 1509 Review

Distiller: Balvenie. Age: no age statement. Batch 1 ABV: 47.1%. Batch 2 ABV: 50.4%. Region: Speyside. Price: $350-500.

The Balvenie Tun series began with the Tun 1401 in 2010–a vatting of 20- to 50-year-old rare casks selected and married by Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart. (A “tun” is a mixing vessel, such as the giant tubs used for these vattings.) It was a smashing success.

Hence the follow-up, the current Tun 1509. No age statement, like the first, but understood to be from somewhat younger and less rare casks than the Tun 1401. The Tun 1509 is still quite hard to find and pricey ($300-500), but thanks to my man @egod16, I was able to try Tun 1509 Batches 1 and 2 recently. Very glad I did.

Batch 1, a vatting of 42 casks, is massively rich, velvety, and multilayered. As warm as a comforter fresh from the dryer. Nose recalls the brilliant Samaroli Evolution. Stewed figs and kirsch-soaked Black Forest cake cherries. Baked peaches. Sweet parchment notes you only get from 20+ year-old oak malt. Honeysuckle. Palate is drier than expected. Peppery. A sonata’s worth of tannic old barrel notes. Pomegranate-infused dark chocolate. A finish that’s long, dry, and hugely satisfying.

Batch 2, a vatting of 32 barrels, is fine, but a step down. Winier, but with more buttery bourbon too. Bosc pear and apple, baked, but still with some brightness. There’s younger malt here, no question. Cotton candy comes out with a drop of water. Palate’s more delicate than Batch 1’s, though still with plenty of pepper and baking spice. More milk chocolate than dark.

Both lovely, but Batch 1 is the big winner here. If 2 is a try-before-you-buy, 1 is one for the ages.

Thanks again to @egod16 for the taste, and to Jonathan at The Whisky Ledger for the gorgeous photo. Slàinte, friends! -BO

Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Cask Review

Distiller: Glenlivet. Region: Speyside. ABV: 60.1%. Age: no age statement. Price: $60.

Having re-tasted my way through the standard Glenlivets recently, I was hungry (thirsty) to see this ubiquitous brand unleashed at cask strength. And my curiosity is always piqued by an unusual twist or finish–a peated cask finish on a classic Speyside, say.

Enter the Glenlivet Nàdurra Peated Cask. Glenlivet’s Nàdurra line is all non-chill-filtered (hurrah!) and bottled cask strength–61.5% ABV in this case. There’s a first-fill Oloroso bottling, a virgin oak bottling, and this no-age-statement Peated Cask bottling that started in ex-bourbon casks, then was finished in casks that previously held a heavily peated Speyside.

Nose: creme brulee and fresh grain. Faint peat–toasty, not briny or prickly. Salted toffee. Even without water, all flavor, no heat. With a few drops of water, bananas foster! Palate: wow. Very peppery, with a mild, toasty peat that complements it wonderfully. Bourbon fruit. Roasted nuts. Finish: on the drier, more peppery side, as Glenlivet often is. Lingering lemon danish with a dusting of cocoa.

I think this one’s a home run. Well done, Glenlivet! -BO

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

Buy Glenlivet Whisky online at Mash + Grape