Showing posts with label Blended Scotch Whisky Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blended Scotch Whisky Review. Show all posts

Johnnie Walker XR 21


”This Blend Misses the X(R) Factor”


Whisky Review # 965

Country: Scotland

Brand: Johnnie Walker XR 21 (Legacy Blend)
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 21 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Unknown - My guess: (Refill) Ex-Bourbon casks & some Sherried Wood 
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 100-140 (October 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎 Too expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😐 Very nice presentation but too Thin and heavy on Grain

Color:

Dark Amber with shades of Brown and Orange (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Thin arrival. It's almost a crime to bottle a 21 Year old high-end Blended Whisky at 40%. I understand it from a financial point of view but that's all. Such a shame! I also get lots of Grain Alcohol so I would guess that the Grain to Malt ratio is likely to be in the range of 70/30%. The Nose is mostly Sweet but I get a few Sour and Salty notes as well. The Sherry casks are there but are drowned somewhat in the sea of Grain. Main drivers are Caramel, (Dried) Dark Fruit, Honey and Spices with some Smoke and Peat in the background.
 
Main Aromas:

Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Buttered Toast, Honey, Salted Caramel, Dark Red Fruit like Berries & Cherries, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricots, Sultanas, Apples & Plums, Distant Campfire Smoke, Orange Marmalade, Dusty Oak, Cinnamon and Cloves.
    
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Demerara Sugar, Nougat, Straw, Earthy Peat, Lemon, Canned Peach, Polished Leather Upholstery, Cigar Ashes, Tobacco, Coconut, Dark Chocolate, Licorice Pepper, Nutmeg and Cardamom.

Mortlach
Palate:

Thin delivery. The slightly Harsh Grain Alcohol rules. The Palate basically follows the Nose with Sweet Dried Fruit, Salted Caramel and slightly Sour Berries.

Main Flavours:

Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Salted Caramel, Dark Honey, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas, Plums and Apricots, Orange Marmalade, Smoke from a distant fire, Peat, Dark Chocolate, Dusty Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Toffee, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Nectarine, Lemon, Toasted Nuts, Strong Black Tea, Cranberry, Gooseberry, Dark Cherries, Tobacco, Burnt Toast/Herbs, Polished Leather Upholstery, Ginger and Cloves.

Port Dundas
Finish:

Short/Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet & Medium-Dry. The Grain Alcohol is slightly Harsh. I find Grain Alcohol, Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins & Apricots, Dark Honey, Distant Campfire Smoke, Earthy Peat, Dusty Oak, Burnt Herbs, Tobacco, Polished Wood, Toasted Nuts, Dark Chocolate, Strong Black Tea, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves, Menthol and Licorice.    

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Blend. It's already too Thin as presented.

Rating: 84.5 - Stars on a 1-10 scale: 7 (*******)

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

*** Important Note with respect to Rating.

A few of my loyal readers have pointed out that every once in a while my final Rating note does not seem to be totally in line with the written text. I recognize that. When I started this Whisky Blog back in 2011, I was not at all experienced in tasting and scoring Single Malts & Blends. Looking back I realize that during the early years I probably scored the good Whiskies too low and the not so good Whiskies too high. Ever since the beginning I try to remain consequent in my rating, always comparing the outcome to the rating of comparable whiskies in terms of quality and taste and adjusting the final rating if necessary. This might lead to the discrepancy I mentioned before. It would have been much easier if I would have chosen a simple 1-10 rating since the beginning but after having reviewed 950 whiskies it would not be wise to change the system now. I will however from now on add stars on the 1-10 scale so you will have a better idea of what I thought of the whisky reviewed. And I'm planning to only use the 1-10 scale as of January 1, 2023. Please feel free to comment!

Drinking Experience Neat
: Good but too Thin

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Good but I still prefer JW Black

Conclusion:

This Blend is made by the current JW Master Blender Jim Beveridge in honour of the late JW Master Blender Alexander Walker II who received a knighthood from King George V in 1920. The Blend is based on Sir Alexander's hand-written notes. It is produced in three subsequent steps. In step 1, quality casks of Port Dundas Grain Whisky are married. In step two, mature whiskies from Ex-Bourbon casks are added to enhance the core flavours. In step 3, mature Single Malts are added adding Fruit and Malt. These Single Malts are said to include Mortlach, Cardhu, Caol Ila and even a few drops of the old demolished Brora distillery.

I can't help but feel that the XR is all about marketing again. It comes in a beautiful heavy bottle and a nice cask. I can imagine that people see this bottle in the Travel Retail shops and go "Wow, this must be great". But once again we are tricked by appearances. The XR is a good Blend but is way too expensive for what it offers. One of the main reasons is the 40% ABV. That simply does not do justice to the mature Malts that are included in the Blend. At this price level the Malt content could and should have been raised to around 40%, thus improving the overal balance Vs. the slightly Sharp Port Dundas Grain Alcohol. The presentation is really beautiful but the contents leave much to be desired. Like Amy Winehouse I'm going Back to Black that presents a much better P/Q ratio! 

Cheers 🥃

Jan van den Ende                                                                         October 6, 2022

Cardhu

Ballantine's Limited


”That Don’t Impress Me Much” 


Whisky Review # 937

Country: Scotland
Brand: Ballantine's Limited
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Probably a Mix of Ex-Bourbon casks & Sherried Wood
Chill Filtration: Yes
Average Price: US$ 160-190 (November 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👇Too expensive for what it offers. The ABV is too low!
Buying Advice: 😡 Just not good enough at this Price level!

Colour:

Golden Amber (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

Not unpleasant but very Light. The ABV is clearly too low. In the UK this Blend is bottled at 43% and that makes total sense. I bought my bottle at the Travel Retail shop at the Sao Paulo airport. The Nose presents some Fruity and Floral notes and the Sherry cask influence is noticeable as is the Grain Alcohol. I was expecting a lot more though.

Main Aromas:

Grain Alcohol, Sweet Barley, Toast and Margarine, Toffee, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins and Plums, Sweet Apple, Pear, Nectarine, Charred Oak, Cinnamon & Cloves.
  
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather Honey, Vanilla, Green Grapes, Orange, Lemon, Cherry-Flavored Yogurt, Burnt Embers and Dough/Yeast. Traces of Licorice and Leather.


Palate:

Weak delivery. The low ABV does not do justice to this Blend. The Palate is a mainly Sweet mixture of Fruity, Floral & Herbal notes. The Grain Alcohol rules unfortunately and the Malt content remains mostly hidden. It's not really bad but at this price level we should get a lot more!
 
Main Flavours:

Grain Alcohol, Sweet Barley, Toffee/Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Sultanas, Sweet Red Apple, Pear, Orange, Charred Oak, Herbal Tea, Pepper, Cloves & Ginger.   

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Nectarine, Toast and Margarine, Lemon, White Chocolate, Cinnamon, Leather and Cherry-Flavored Yogurt.

Finish:

On the Short side as was to be expected given the standard ABV. The Grain Alcohol is quite noticeable and it becomes a little Edgy and Hot towards the end. I also find Sweet Barley, Slightly Burnt Toast, Dried Fruit like Sultanas and Apricots, Orange, Sweet Apples, Pear, Heather-Honey, Toffee, White Chocolate, Charred Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Menthol and Licorice. The Finish is quite Sweet & Medium Dry.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water cools down the Grain Alcohol but does not help in any other way. The ABV is already too low as it is. I can't help but get the JW Red feeling!

Rating: 82.5

Nose: 21.5  - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20  - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Drinking Experience On the Rocks: Okay/Good

Conclusion:

This expensive Blend contains some Malt from selected rare casks distilled at a/o Miltonduff & Glenburgie. But 
Ballantine’s owner, French Pernod-Ricard Group, also possesses Aberlour, The Glenlivet, Strathisla, Longmorn, Scapa & Tormore. So we might assume at least some of them to be part of this blend. I'm thoroughly disappointed by the Limited. It starts with the low ABV that does not do justice to this Blend. The overal feeling is Thin and Weak. And that's unacceptable at this price level. The presentation and bottle are first class but the whisky isn't. And that's what matters to me. It's not a bad blend of course but it's certainly not worth the money. Even on the rocks this blend does not convince on account of the low ABV. The idea behind the Limited is good but the result does not impress at all.

Cheers! 🥃

Jan van den Ende                                                                  November 24, 2021

Compass Box Great King St. Glasgow Blend



”Where the Streets Have No Name”


Whisky Review # 930

Country: Scotland
Brand: Compass Box Great King St. Glasgow Blend
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky - Batch GB 209 - Bottled: 2020
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of Bourbon & Sherry Wood with new French Oak Finish (3%)
Chill Filtration: No
Average Price: US$ 47 (September 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍 Okay/Good given the variety of the components.
Buying Advice: 😐 It's okay I guess but too Thin and Bland for me.

Colour:

Golden Amber (Natural Color)

Nose:

Young and on the Thin side. A mix of Sweet and Sour notes with Tart, Mineral and Smoky accents. The Sherry influence is rather limited. I pick up various Aroma and Flavor nuances but it takes a lot of time and patience.

Main Aromas:

Grain Alcohol, Malted & Toasted Barley, slightly Burnt Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Apricots and Raisins, Toasted Pineapple, Lemon & Orange Zest, Smoked Fish, Shellfish & Bacon, Cold Campfire Smoke, Wet Mud, Grass, Leather, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Demerara Sugar, Nectarine, Tart Apples, Strawberry-flavored Yogurt, White Chocolate, Roasted Nuts, Oak, Brine, Wet Rocks/Sand, Ashes, light Iodine, Pepper, Cloves, PVC Pipes and Olive Oil. Some Bananas from time to time.


Palate:

Young, slightly Oily and on the Thin side. The Grain Alcohol is clearly noticeable. The Malt cask influence is limited. Laphroaig is the only Malt you can pick up reasonably easy. The Palate presents a mix of Bitter-Sweet and Sour notes with Salty, Herbal, Spicy and Smoky nuances.

Main Flavours:

Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Salted Toffee, Vanilla, Grass & Straw, Campfire Smoke, Charred Oak, Wet Mud, Lemon, Grapefuit, Seville Orange, Toasted Pineapple, Smoked Fish, Shellfish and Bacon, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Licorice and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Honey, Ashes, Iodine, Wet Rocks/Sand, Dried Fruits like Raisins and Apricots, Wax, Roasted Nuts, Dried Coconut, Herbal Tea, Leather, Tobacco, Nutmeg, Aniseed and Cloves. A hint of PVC Pipes.

Finish:

Short/Middle-Long and again on the Thin side. The Grain Alcohol is clearly present. The same can't be said from the Sherry casks unfortunately. The Finish is a rather disappointing mix of Bitter-Sweet and Sour notes laced with Herbs, Spices and Salt. Quite Dry in the end. I find Grain Alcohol, Toasted Malt, Burnt Toast, Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Honey, Lemon, Grapefruit, Seville-Orange, Roasted Nuts, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Dates, Campfire Smoke, Wet Earth, Ashes, Charred Oak, Herbal Tea, Espresso, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves, Licorice, Aniseed & Menthol. A hint of PVC Pipes.


Drinking Advice:

Added Water turns this Glasgow Blend into a Laphroaig infused Grain Alcohol. Better sip it neat or, preferably, on the Rocks.

Rating: 82

Nose: 21 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience On the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

First of all some information on this Blend and the series as mentioned on the label.

" The Great King St Range from Compass Box is dedicated to creating contemporary Scotch Whiskies in the full-flavored style of the great 19th century Blending Houses. In creating these Blends we drew on archive recipies from the golden age of Whisky making then updating them with our own 21st century custom cask maturation techniques. The result is a style of Blended Scotch unlike anything else available today".

"In the Glasgow Blend we have combined the smoky marine character of mature Islay Malt Whisky with the rich Fruitcake character of Sherry cask matured Speyside Scotch and the deep Vanilla richness of aged Lowland Grain. The combination is bold, peaty and sherried, a quite fitting Blend for the people of Glasgow who have historically preferred fuller bodied and more flavor-packed whiskies than their counterparts in other areas of the world".

This Glasgow Blend consists of 35,2% Single Grain Whisky from the Cameronbridge distillery matured in First-Fill Bourbon Barrels, 29% of (most likely) Aberlour Malt matured in First-Fill Sherry Butts, 18% of Laphroaig Malt that matured in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks, 9,9% of Clynelish Malt matured in First-Fill Ex-Bourbon barrels, 5,1% of (most likely) Benrinnes matured in Re-vatted Sherry Butts and 2,6% of a Highland Malt Blend containing (in the specific 2020 Bottling) 60% Glen Moray, 25% Tomatin and 15% Balmenach. Earlier batches contained Clynelish, Teaninich and Dailuane. The information provided by Compass Box is truly unique in today's Whisky world and highly commendable.

This is not an easy Blend to review. The P/Q ratio is quite okay and it's not bad when compared to the average Scottish Blends. But it's clear to me that Compass Box aimed to keep the price at a reasonable level and that shows of course in the ultimate Aroma and Flavor profile. The casks used for maturation of the various Malts were certainly not the most active ones, especially the Sherry Wood. As a result the Grain Alcohol and the Laphroaig Malt are the main drivers of this Blend. The ABV of 43% is not quite enough to carry sufficient other Aromas and Flavors to our Nosing and Tasting systems, resulting in a rather Thin profile. Compass Box wanted to produce a full-bodied and flavor-packed Blend to honor the tradition of the Glasgow people. I don't think they quite succeeded in doing so. This Blend will probably be more popular in areas Where the Streets Have No Name!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  September 29, 2021

Teacher's Golden Thistle



”There’s No Thistle Without Thorns”


Whisky Review # 927

Country: Scotland
Brand: Teacher's Golden Thistle
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Mix of American & European Oak with Islay Cask Finish (Laphroaig)
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range : US$ 17-23 (August 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍 Very competitive at this Price Level
Buying Advice: 😐 If you like Teacher's you should surely give this one a try. 

Colour:

Amber (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

The Nose is mainly Sweet and on the Thin side. The Grain Alcohol is noticeable but not in an aggressive way. I can't find any disturbing off-notes. We can safely state that the Islay Finish must have been short and that 3rd and/or 4th refill casks were used as the coastal peat element is basically non-existing. There is a very faint hint of Peatsmoke but it's of the earthy Ardmore variety. Still, I have nosed far worse at this price level.

Main Aromas:

Malted Cereals, Toast & Margarine, Caramel, Sugar, Grain Alcohol, Unripe Orchard Fruit, Peanuts, (Dried) Red Fruit and Leather.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Sweet Barley, Treacle, Citrus, Peat/Smoke, Cocoa Powder, Straw, Mint, Licorice and hints of Cooked Vegetables/Potatoes.


Palate:

Rather Thin. A mix of Sugary Sweet, Sour and lightly Bitter notes. The Alcohol is more noticeable now but given its price class it stays within reason. The overall picture is less aggressive when compared to the Highland Cream and the Clan.

Main Flavours:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Caramel, Grain Alcohol, Peatsmoke, (Dried) Red Fruit, Green Apple, Lemon, Nut Shells, Pepper, Licorice and Menthol.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Vanilla, Toffee, Syrup, Straw, Sweet Barley, Cocoa Powder, Peanuts and Leather.

Finish:

Short/Middle-Long, rather Thin and mainly (Sugary) Sweet. A few Bitter notes from the casks and a little Heat caused by the Grain Alcohol. This is easily the worst part of this Blend. I find some Sugared Grains, Grain Alcohol, Toffee, Caramel, Wax, Refill Oak, Peatsmoke, Nut Shells, Menthol, Pepper, Licorice and Leather.

Drinking Advice:

A little Water enhances the Fruit on the Nose but totally kills Palate and Finish. I will finish this bottle on the Rocks as it's the most agreeable way to enjoy this Thistle.

Rating: 76.5

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19.5 - Finish: 17.5 - Overall: 19

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience On the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

When William Teacher commisioned his new Office in Glasgow in 1875 he used the national flower of Glasgow, the Thistle as a key design element on the front of the building symbolizing strength & beauty. The building, made with Golden Sandstone is still a very recognizable Glasgow icon and a long standing tribute to W. Teacher's famous blend. Teacher's Highland Cream is one of the best selling blends in Brazil, especially in the North-East. Brazil and India are two of the main markets for the Golden Thistle 12 Years. The Grain Whisky and the Malt Whisky with Ardmore and Auchentoshan as the main ingredients are matured, blended & finished in Scotland before being shipped in bulk to Brazil where the blend is diluted to 40% and bottled.

Let me start by saying that the presentation of this Thistle is quite nice. Box, Bottle and Label are all a big step up when compared to the standard Teacher's. The 2nd positive thing to mention is its price. Quite competitive in the battle with JW Red and the likes. And quality wise it's a little step up when compared to the Clan and the Highland Cream. Quite enjoyable on the Rocks as well. But still too Thin, too Bland and too Edgy to enjoy as a sipping Whisky. I'm not a huge fan of Teacher's in general but this is the way forward in my opinion! Let's see if the sales figures confirm my view!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                        August 26, 2021

Ardmore, the spiritual Home of Teacher's

Ballantine's Bourbon Finish


”I’m Glad I Reached the Finish”


Whisky Review # 905

Country: Scotland
Brand: Ballantine's Bourbon Finish
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS (Probably 3-5 Years)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Refill Ex-Bourbon casks. Finish: Married in Ex-Bourbon casks.
Chill Filtration: Yes
Average Price: US$ 20-25 (March 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👍Okay
Buying Advice: 😑 Mixing/On the Rocks okay. Not good enough for sipping.

Colour:

Golden Honey (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

Thin, Young, Soft and Sweet. The Grain Alcohol is quite present. The Bourbon casks make themselves known with lots of Caramel, Toffee and Vanilla. A bit of Fruit and Nuts and that's about it. Not too much going on here. No Off-Notes.

Main Aromas:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Vanilla, Caramel, Gras/Straw, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Sultanas, Nuts, Orange, Sweet Apple, Cinnamon and Pepper.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Butterscotch, Bounty Bars, German Butter Biscuits, Lemon, Nectarine, Wood Chips and Smoke from an extremely distant fire.


Palate:

Young, Soft, Watery Thin and Sugary Sweet. The Grain Alcohol rules despite all the innovative Finish efforts. Flavorwise, it basically follows the Nose.

Main Flavours:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, Straw, Dried Fruit and Nuts, Sweet Apple, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Heather-Honey, Butterscotch, Bitter Orange, Caffe Latte, Dried Herbs, Wood Chips, Lemon, Licorice, Mint and the afore mentioned Smoke.

Finish:

Short and Thin. Sugary Sweet at first but with a light Bitterness popping up towards the end. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, Butterscotch, Grain Alcohol, Dried Fruit, Nuts, Straw, Candied Orange Peel, Caffe Latte, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Wood Chips, Licorice, Dried Herbs and this far away Smoke.

Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to this Ballantine's. It's Thin enough as it is

Rating: 77 

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19 - Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 19 

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay/Good

Conclusion:

Ballantine's Blended Whisky was created in 1910 by the family of the same name. The main Single malt components are Miltonduff and Glenburgie but it is said that the Blend contains upto 50 different whiskies including four Grain Whiskies. Bourbon Finish was introduced over here in December 2020. In other parts of the world a 7 Year-old Whisky was released under the same name. The whiskies for this Blend mature separately before being married and finished for an unknown period of time in Ex-Bourbon casks. This procedure is quite new in the Blended Whisky segment. 

I like innovative initiatives and I must congratulate Ballantine's on this novelty that's quite common in Single Malt maturation but not so for Blends. Having said that I must also notice that the effect of the, probably short, finish is limited. It takes away a bit of the harshness that I find in Ballantine's Finest. The makers like to think of this expression as a bridge between Whisky and Bourbon fans. That goes a little too far in my opinion. This Ballantine's remains a Refill cask matured Blend that is okay for mixing and over Ice but not interesting enough as a sipping Whisky. It's a Party drink in that sense. And Ballantine's will be fine with that as they are obviously reaching out to a young public with this Bourbon Finish.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                          March 1, 2021

Compass Box Transistor




”Who Let the BrewDogs Out”


Whisky Review # 902

Country: Scotland
Brand: Compass Box Transistor - BrewDog's Boilermaker Series
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Mix of 1st Fill American Oak Barrels and French (Vosges) Oak Casks
Chill Filtration: No - Only a light 5 Micron Filtration
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many thanks!
Average Price: US$ 60 (February 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😑 Slightly expensive for what it offers
Buying Advice: 😴Boring. It's said to pair well with the BrewDog Punk IPA though!

Colour:

Chardonnay (Natural Color)

Nose:

Please give Transistor a little time in the glass before Nosing in order to get rid of some serious initial waves of Grain Alcohol. There's not too much going on in this department I'm afraid. The Aromas are comparable to your slightly above average Blended Scotch. It's a bit less harsh suggesting a higher percentage of Malt Whisky. The Nose is Sweet and Creamy with Fruity, Cereal and Floral notes. No off-notes but nothing of particular interest as well. Reasonable Cask Management.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Grain, Buttered Toast, German Butter Biscuits, Orange, Lemon, Fresh Herbs, Bounty Bars, Oak, Dried Figs, Cinnamon and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Butterscotch, Yeast, Apricot-filled Pastry, Apple, Green Grapes, Raisins, Grapefruit, Wet Stones, Pepper and Nutmeg. A distant hint of some Campfire Smoke.


Palate:

Young, Thin, Dry, Bitter-Sweet, Fruity & Creamy. The Grain Alcohol remains ever present and overpowers the Malt Whisky. It's not bad but you don't have to wake me up for it.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Grains, Buttered Toast, Bounty Bars, Seville Orange, Grapefruit, Cinnamon, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Oak, Fresh (Mint) and Dried (Coriander) Herbs.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Honey, Caramel, Butterscotch, Candied Apple, Dried Fruit like Raisin & Figs, Lemon, Wet Stones, Marzipan, Smoke, Iron and Roasted Nuts.

Finish:

Middle-Long & Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour notes as well. Quite Dry towards the end. The Grain Alcohol remains noticeable. A bit Thin despite the acceptable ABV. I find Toasted Grain, Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Seville Orange, Grapefruit, Lemon, Bounty Bars, Marzipan, Pepper, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves, Cinnamon, Menthol, Dried Herbs, Oak, Candied Apples and light Smoke.

Drinking Advice:

Due to the small size of the sample I only tasted the Transistor neat.

Rating: 82

Nose: 21- Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good. On the Thin side.

Conclusion:

John Glaser is one of the Whisky Makers at Compass Box, a Blending company in the UK. John's grandfather Jack from Chicago had the habit of drinking a cold Beer together with a Whisk(e)y of choice. This combo became known as a Boilermaker. Based on this, John, together with his colleague James Saxon and Steven Kersley, the Head of Distillation at Beer-Brewery BrewDog created a Blended Whisky that goes perfectly with the BrewDog Punk IPA. They called it the Transistor as the whisky amplifies the beer. I couldn't find the beer unfortunately but I can imagine that the Sweetness of the Whisky combines well with the bitter hops of the IPA. I hear that the combination works well so by all means give it a chance if you have the opportunity. Today I will concentrate on the Whisky as such, a blend of Grain Whisky from Cameronbridge and Single Malts from Linkwood, Teaninich, Dailuaine and Clynelish. Transistor is only for sale in the UK.

This Whisky was specifically made to pair the BrewDog Punk IPA and unfortunately I was not able to taste them together. On a stand-alone basis however, the Transistor is a reasonable Blended Scotch Whisky without off-notes but also unexciting. Boring to be honest. And it's a little too expensive for a boring Whisky. If you are in a pairing mood 😬by all means go for it. But Transistor is not interesting enough as a sipping Whisky on its own.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                     February 8, 2021

Chivas Regal 18 Mizunara Oak Finish


”The Sweet Escape”


Whisky Review # 888

Country: Scotland
Brand: Chivas Regal Mizunara Oak Finish - Ultimate Cask Collection
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 48%
Maturation: Mix of Ex-Bourbon Casks and Sherried Wood
Finish: First Fill Japanese Mizunara Oak casks
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many thanks!
Price Range : US$ 160-230 (September 2020 - 1 Liter)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😔 Quite expensive. At around US$ 130 it's a good deal.  
Buying Advice: 😄 Very Nice Blend. It's Sweet but quite Good.

Colour:

Mahogany (Artificially Colored)

Nose:

You immediately notice the Mizunara Wood when nosing this Chivas. It reminds me of Polished Sandal wood. I sometimes get Coconut as well but this time that's not really the case. It's a very nice smell actually but it's rather diluted here by the neutral Grain Alcohol. The Nose is Sweet with (Dried) Fruit, Vanilla and Spices. It's not really powerful despite the respectable ABV. I had expected more to be honest.

Main Aromas:

Barley Sugar, Toasted Grains, Buttered Toast, Caramel, Vanilla, Apricot-Filled Puff-Pastry, Grain Alcohol, Rum-Tea, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Figs, very ripe Banana, Nectarine, Mizunara Wood, Cinnamon, Ginger and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Sweet Gelatin, Toffee, Milk Chocolate, Sweet Apples & Pears, Bread Dough, Grass and Straw, Lemon, Dark Red Fruit, Herbs, Pepper and Cardamom. At times I got some Aniseed and Tobacco as well.

Strathisla, the Rainy Home of Chivas

Palate:

Quite pleasant. The Mizunara Wood gives this extra bit of character and it does not overpower the other flavors, probably thanks to the high ABV. It's difficult not to like this one unless you are allergic to Sweetness. Because it is Sweet!

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Vanilla, Rum-Tea, Dried Fruit like Apricot and Raisins, Banana Ice-Cream, Nectarine, Orange, Mizunara Wood, Grain Alcohol, Dark Red Berries, Assorted Nuts, Cinnamon, Ginger and Cloves.

Supportive Flavour Accents:
   
Heather-Honey, Toffee, Grass and Straw, Sweet Apples and Pears, Milk Chocolate, Lemon, Pepper, Nutmeg and Aniseed.

Finish:

Middle-Long and quite Sweet. Medium-Dry towards the end. The Grain Alcohol is quite present at this time but it's still a pretty decent Finish for a Blended Scotch Whisky. You do need to accept the Sweetness however. The Sherry Wood is quite noticeable. I find Sweet Barley, Resin, Sugared Honey Nuts, Toasted Grains, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Sweet Apples and Pears, Banana Ice-Cream, Nectarine, Orange, Lemon, Perfumed Soap, Mizunara Wood, Peanuts, Salt, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves and Aniseed.

Drinking Advice:

No need to add Water to this Chivas Regal.

Rating: 85.5

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5  - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Sweet but Good

Conclusion:

This Chivas Mizunara is part of the Ultimate Cask Collection and was released in  2018. This interesting series had started in 2015 with the First Fill American Oak Finish, followed in 2017 by the First Fill French Oak Finish. It was initially released for the Travel Retail market.

I'm actually pleasantly surprised by this Blend, especially considering the well-balanced Palate/Finish. I find the Nose to be a bit underwhelming though. But in general this exciting maturation in a mix of Ex-Bourbon casks & Sherried Wood followed by the Mizunara Cask Finish works really well. It's quite expensive but if you can spare the cash you won't be disappointed. Sweet but Good stuff!

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    September 7, 2020

Mizunara Tree (Picture Credit: The Tozan Tales)

Johnnie Walker 18 Years Review


“Who’s Johnnie”

Whisky Review # 879

Country: Scotland
Brand: Johnnie Walker
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Probably a Mix of Ex-Bourbon Casks and some Sherried Wood
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Ratio : US$ 55-75 (June 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😀Okay if you can get it at around US$ 50
Buying Advice: 😑It's okay but Black and Green have a better P/Q ratio.

Colour:

Rich Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

It's a pity that even the higher-end JW Blends are bottled at 40%. The 18 Years at least requires 43% and probably a bit more. As it is the initial feeling on the Nose is a bit Weak and Thin. It's not bad but just too Light. The Grain Alcohol is notable of course but in a Softer way. The Nose is basically Sweet with Fruits, Cereals and Caramel in the lead.

Main Aromas:

Soft Cereals, lightly Salted Caramel, Butterscotch, Apple-Strudel, Apricot-filled Puff Pastry, Citrus Peel (Orange, Lemon, Mandarin), Oak, Ginger, Cinnamon and Floral notes.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Sweet Barley, Toast, Heather-Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Toasted Pineapple, Herbal Tea, Mint, Maraschino Cherries, Banana Yogurt. In the distant background a little Smoke, Earth, Ashes and Varnish.

Glen Elgin

Palate:

A bit on the Thin side again due to the low ABV. The Palate is quite Clean without any off-notes. The Grain Alcohol is more noticeable here than on the Nose. The Palate is Sweet with a very light Bitter touch for balance. Soft Spices enter as well.

Main Flavours:

Soft Cereals, Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Wax, Apple-Strudel, Apricot/Peach filled Puff Pastry, Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin), Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Vanilla, Salted Butter, Plum Jam, Salted Almonds/Peanuts, Herbal Tea, Mint, Dusty Earth, Smoke and Orange-Flavoured Dark Chocolate.

Finish:

Middle-Long and (almost Sugary) Sweet. There's more Spice in the Finish and the Grain Alcohol is more noticeable here. I find Toasted Cereals, Sweet Barley, Salty Caramel, Toffee, Vanilla, Butterscotch, Heather-Honey, Floral notes, Citrus Peel, Nuts, Fruit Cake, Charred Oak, Pepper, Orange-Flavoured Chocolate, Cinnamon, Ginger, Mint and hints of Smoke, Dusty Earth and Varnish. Medium-Dry.

Auchroisk
Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and on the Nose the Malt advances with a clear nod to the Cardhu Distillery. The Grain Alcohol & Pepper become more evident in the Finish. I prefer it Neat but you can certainly play with a few drops here.

Rating: 84

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Drinking Experienceon the Rocks: Good

Conclusion:

The Pursuit of the Ultimate 18 Year Old Blend is the full name of this 18 year old Blend of up to 18 different Grain/Malt Whiskies prepared by Jim Beveridge, Master Blender at Diageo. The basis is Speyside with Malts like Cardhu, Glen Elgin and Auchroisk. It is enhanced by Highland Malts like Blair Athol & a bit of Smoky Island Malt, probably Talisker. This 18 year old is in the fact the revived Platinum that received new packaging, name and bottle. It's possible of course that minor changes have been made in the blend depending on the availability of certain Single Malts.

The 18 Years is indeed quite similar to the Platinum. This Blend is okay but suffers from the low ABV and the, IMO, slightly too high Speyside (Cardhu) component. It would be much better at 43-45% with a higher percentage of Highland & Island (Talisker). As it is, it's okay if you can get it at around US$ 50. Above that, the Green and even the Black and Double-Black are the better JW options.

Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                         June 15, 2020

Cardhu