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

Chivas Regal Mizunara Review

“Scotland Meets Japan”

Country: Scotland
Brand: Chivas Regal Mizunara (Special Edition)
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 40%
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 577
Buying Advice: ­čśĽ At 30 US Dollars you might give it a try.

Colour: Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: The Mizunara tones are quite clear, even slightly dominant. The Grain Alcohol is there as well and the two of them are the main drivers on the Nose. It's all a bit Thin and the ABV of 40% is most certainly inadequate. In addition to the Wood and Alcohol, I find Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Straw, Grass, Pizza Dough, light Vanilla, Nuts, Dried Apricot, Nectarine, Pear, Banana, Fresh Herbs, Citrus Peel, light Honey and traces of Black Tea and Tobacco.

Taste: The delivery is quite Thin and the Wood is pretty dominant again. The Fruity tones are merely noticeable in the background. I find Toasted Cereals, Grain Alcohol, light Vanilla, Banana, Pear Drops, Salted Nuts, Dried Apricot, Orange Peel, light Honey, Straw, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Herbal Tea and Licorice.  

Finish: Middle-Long, slightly Tannic and mainly Sweet. There's a light Bitterness towards the end that reminds me of Black Tea and Salted Licorice. I also find Toasted Cereals, Grain Alcohol, Sugar, Caramel, Toffee, Oak, Nut Shells, light Peanut Butter, Banana, light Vanilla, Pepper, Clove, Ginger and Aniseed. It's the weakest part of this Blend.   

With added Water the Alcohol subsides and the Nose becomes quite Floral. The Mizunara Wood remains present. Palate and Finish become too Thin however.

Rating: 73   

Nose: 20 - Taste: 18 – Finish: 17 - Overall: 18

General Remarks: The Chivas Regal Mizunara was launched in October 2014. A trip to Japan inspired Chivas Master Distiller Colin Scott to create a Blend using 12 Year Old Scottish Grain - and Malt Whiskies partly finished in Casks made from Mizunara (Japanese Oak) wood. Quite unique I would say. It was intended for the Japanese market but in the meantime some bottles are available outside Japan as well. The main malts used in this Blend are Strathisla and Longmorn. The price of the Mizunara may vary considerably depending on where you live. I have noticed prices between 30 and 70 US Dollars (November 2016).

Drinking Experience Neat : Okay/Average

Conclusion: It's basically a standard 12 Years with Mizunara finish. This wood gives an additional Aroma/Flavour to the Blend but it also tends to dominate the other Flavours and Aromas, especially the Fruity ones, leaving the Blend rather off-balance. And that's a pity. I liked the experiment but I don't see this being continued in the long run. I think that a solid, powerful Single Malt could benefit from a Mizunara Finish but this Wood is too dominant for your average Grain Alcohol. The idea was interesting but in my opinion it didn't quite work out well enough.
Jan van den Ende                                                              November 28, 2016

Chivas Brother's Blend Review

“Purple Grain”
Country : Scotland
Brand: The Chivas Regal Brother's Blend
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol: 40%
Chill-Filtration: Yes
Whisky Review # 567

Colour: Full Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: I'm not a big fan of the original 12 Years so I'm really curious to see if there's any significant difference here. There's still a lot of young, indifferent Grain Alcohol around but I do get some Sweet Barley as well. I would assume that the Malt for this Blend matured in a mix of Refill Ex-Bourbon and Ex-Sherry casks. I tasted the "old" 12 years back in 2011/2012 and I must admit that today I'm more able to recognise what I'm nosing and tasting. Next to the Alcohol and Barley, I find Caramel, Toast and Margarine, light Vanilla, light Honey, Straw, Artificially-Flavoured Tropical Fruit Candies (Papaya, Pineapple, Banana), Dried Apricot, Nut Shells, Pencil Shavings, Citrus Peel, light Peanut Butter, Bread Dough and the faintest hint of Smoke. There's a bit more to discover here than in the "old" 12 years and it feels less aggressive but I still can't get excited about this Chivas Regal Blend.   

Taste: The delivery is quite Thin and Sugary Sweet. The Grain Alcohol is very noticeable and so are the Wood Spices like Pepper, Clove, Cinnamon and Ginger. I also find Sugared Cereals, Sweet Barley, Caramel, Toffee, light Vanilla, Dried Apricot, Citrus Peel, Herbal Tea, Refill Oak, Artificially Flavoured Fruit Candies (Banana, Papaya) and light Licorice.  

Finish: Short, Sugary Sweet, Spicy and with a light Alcohol bite. I find Cereals, a little Toasted Barley, Toffee, Caramel, very light Honey, Refill Oak, Hazelnuts, light Vanilla, Salt, Pepper, Clove and light Licorice. Slightly Bitter towards the end. A very faint hint of Smoke.     

With added Water, the Chivas Brother's Blend becomes too Thin although I find some additional Floral notes. 

Rating : 77.5  

Nose: 20 - Taste: 19.5 – Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 19.5

General Remarks:The Chivas Brother's Blend 12 Years was launched in October 2012, originally as a Travel Retail Expression. In the meantime it forms part of the Chivas Regal core range. It was created as a tribute to the two founding brothers James and John who started Chivas back in 1801. It is based on the "old" 12 years but it received a higher proportion of Malt Whisky, mainly from Strathisla and Longmorn. It sells at around 50 US Dollars (October 2016).   
Drinking Experience Neat : Okay  

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay. It gets a bit Thin over Ice.
Conclusion: Despite the slick presentation and packaging, the Chivas Regal Brother's Blend only improved slightly when compared to the "old" 12 Years. It's a little less Sharp and a little more rounded thanks to the higher Malt content. But the Young Grain Alcohol is still in control and the same type of Refill casks is used to mature the Malt for this Blend. Sugar, Spice and Artificial Fruit Flavours are the main drivers. If you find it at around 30 US Dollars it's an okay buy but at 50 US Dollars it's way too expensive for what it offers.
Jan van de Ende                                                                  October 17, 2016

Haig Gold Label Review

“Another One Bites The Dust”

Country: Scotland 
Brand: Haig Gold Label
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Golden Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose: Despite the 40% Malt content, the Grain Whisky is quite present on the Nose. Haig Gold Label is both Sweet and Sour with Sugared Cereals, Toast and Margarine, Caramel, Brown Sugar, Refill Oak, Nut Shells, Mandarin Juice, Lemon Peel, Grass, Straw, Sour Apples, White Grapes, light Heather-Honey, Peanut Butter and distant hints of Burnt Tyres and Dried Apricot. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.    

Palate: Sugary Sweet and Watery with Sugared Cereals, Caramel, Toffee, very light Vanilla, Nut Shells, Refill Oak, light Citrus, Grass, Straw and hints of Thin Coconut Milk and Cold Smoke.  

Finish: Short, Bitter-Sweet, Edgy and Sharp with Sugared Cereals, Caramel, Toffee, Straw, Nut Shells, Lemon, Refill Oak, Grain Alcohol, Pepper and distant Cold Smoke. There's something Artificial about the Finish that I can't quite place.

Haig Gold Label does not accept Water very well. Everything just gets watered down.

Rating: 73

Nose: 19 - Taste: 18 - Finish: 17,5 - Overall: 18.5

General Remarks: Haig Whisky is one of the oldest whiskies in the world and was first distilled by John Haig in 1824 in Cameronbridge in Scotland. It was very popular until some 40 years ago when it left the Haig Family Ownership. After exchanging hands a couple of times it is nowadays owned by Diageo and the brand name is gaining popularity again with the Gold, Dimple and Pinch Blends as well as the Haig Club Single Grain. Haig Gold is made of some 30-40 whiskies and contains 40% Malt a/o from Linkwood, Glenkinchie, Cragganmore, Knockdhu, Mannochmore and Glenlossie. The Malt whiskies used for Haig Gold matured in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks from Kentucky. It's reasonably cheap and usually priced in the 25 to 30 US Dollars range.    

Drinking Experience Neat: Below Average.

Conclusion: Whisky is very expensive these days and unfortunately many people can't afford to drink good Single Malts on a regular basis. So they are either forced to drink Bottom Shelf Blends like this Haig Gold Label or will consider Bourbon or other Alcoholic Beverages like Vodka or Gin. To me, Bourbon is still the best option. The main reason is the wood used to mature Whiskies that go into blends like Haig Gold. We know that over 70% of the taste of Whisky comes from the cask. And Refill casks that have been used many times simply don't have much interesting Aromas and Flavours left to give to the Spirit. As a result Haig Gold Label and many of its peers are simply not good enough to sip neat. It doesn't give you any pleasure. On the Rocks or Mixed are the alternatives. I have tasted many standard Scottish Blends in the meantime but I always come back to JW Black as it has the best Price/Quality ratio as far as I'm concerned.

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 28, 2016


Haig Supreme 2015 Review

“Mixed Emotions”

Country: Scotland 
Brand: Haig Supreme
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS 
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Golden Amber 

Nose: The young Grain whiskies are all over the place. I do wonder if I ever really will appreciate their Aroma. I also get Dried Apricot, Mandarin Peel, Nuts, Caramel, Honey, Refill Wood, Cereals, Toast and Margarine, a hint of Sherry and Smoke from a very distant fire. Some slightly Sour Apples after a while. A light Plastic like Off-Note as well. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. It's not a very inspiring Nose. Still, it's the better part of this Blend!

Palate: The Delivery is slightly Watery. Haig Supreme is Sweet at first with Sugared Orange Peel, Honey, Caramel, Toffee and light Vanilla but certainly more dry and slightly bitter towards the end with Refill Oak, Nut Shells, Hay, Pepper and a bit of Smoke. 

Finish: Short, Dry and slightly Bitter towards the end with Refill Oak, Caramel, Toffee, Sugar, Hot Grain Alcohol, Hay, Pepper, Nuts and a puff of Smoke. 

Haig Supreme does not accept Water very well. Everything just gets watered down.

Rating: 76

Nose: 19.5 - Taste: 19 - Finish: 18.5 - Overall: 19

General Remarks: The oldest family name in Scotch Whisky is Haig. Robert Haig began distilling on a farm in 1627. To honour this remarkable heritage, John Haig & Co. of Edinburgh, Scotland (Diageo Group) launched the Haig Supreme, a blended Scotch whisky made of 20 different Grain- & Malt Whiskies that aged in European Oak casks. It's not at all expensive at around 30 US Dollars (August 2015)

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay

Drinking Experience on the Rocks: Okay

Conclusion: I tasted the Haig Supreme earlier. In July 2013 to be specific. I scored it just half a point higher back then but all in all my earlier impressions were confirmed. Today, I'm just a little bit more capable in describing more precisely what I smell and taste. Haig Supreme is not a sipping whisky and I suppose that's okay at this price level. There are simply not enough Aromas and Flavours present to enjoy it neat. On the rocks and in the mix however it can certainly compete with the likes of JW Red Label and in fact I find Haig slightly less aggressive. It's not much but it's something I suppose!

Jan van den Ende                                                                  August 10, 2015

Amber Glen Classic Blend and Amber Glen Speyside Single Malt Reviews

Amber Glen.
Amber Glen is an Independent Bottler, Distributor and Exporter of Amber Glen Blended and Single Malt Whisky, distilled, matured and bottled in Scotland. The company was founded in February 2013 by Samuel Minionis and offers a wide range of Blended - and Single Malt Whiskies. They are specialised in bottling Small Batches in the Amber Supreme series that include young Single Malts from from all the five Scottish production areas. The Supreme expressions are naturally coloured, Non Chill-Filtered and have a higher ABV of 46%. From time to time Single Casks are offered as well. Amongst others, Amber Glen buys their Malt from Macduff, Glenallachie, Glentauchers and Miltonduff. Amber Glen will focus their sales efforts on the large group of new Whisky consumers, mainly in emerging markets. Amber Glen send me two samples to review. Many Thanks!

Country: Scotland 
Brand: Amber Glen Classic
Bottler: Amber Glenn Scotch Whisky Co. Ltd., 
Type: Blended Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 40 %

Colour: Yellow Gold.

Nose: The Grain Alcohol is quite present so you need to find your way around it. Give the Amber Glen enough time in the glass. I find slightly Burnt Toast with a little Margarine, Raisins, Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Bread Dough, light Vanilla, Refill Oak and hints of Rum Soaked Apples and Varnish. None of the Aromas is very pronounced as they are dominated by the Sharp Grain Alcohol.

Palate: Young and Sugary Sweet with Breakfast Cereals, Toasted Grains, Toffee, Nut Shells, Sharp Alcohol, light Refill Oak, light Licorice, Nutmeg and Pepper. 

Finish: Quite Short and Rough. Sugary Sweet at first but a little Bitter towards the end with Corn Flakes, Almonds, light Refill Oak, light Licorice and Pepper. 

I added a bit of Water and the Sharp Grain Alcohol retreats somewhat. I also find a little Dried Apricot on the Nose. If you choose to drink this Blend neat I would advise you to add a couple of drops of Water although Palate and Finish become rather Thin.  

Rating: 71 

Nose: 18.5 - Taste: 17.5 - Finish: 17.5 - Overall: 17.5

General Remarks: The Amber Glen Classic Blend consists of 20% Malt Whisky and 80% Grain Whisky. Usually, less expensive Blends use around 30% Malt Whiskies. It costs around 30 US Dollars (April 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Below Average. 

Conclusion: This is very young whisky that matured in 3rd and/or 4th Refill Ex-Bourbon Casks. The Nose is the better part but on the Palate and in the Finish Sugared Breakfast Cereals and Sharp Grain Alcohol rule. This Amber Glen Blend noses and tastes almost like a slightly younger version of Ballantine's Finest Blend. I must assume that this Amber Glen Blend is mainly produced for Mixing Purposes. Because the combination of a large percentage of young Grain Alcohol and a small percentage of young Refill Cask Malt Whisky does not produce a spirit that is interesting enough to drink neat. Nice presentation and bottle though!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    April 23, 2015

Country: Scotland 
Brand: Amber Glen Speyside
Bottler: Amber Glen Scotch Whisky Co. Ltd
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
ABV: 40%

Colour: Golden Amber 

Nose: Young, Light, Sweet, Fruity and Floral with Pear Drops, Sour Apples, Nuts, Beeswax, light Honey, Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Tired Cask, Lemon and Wood Spices. After a while some Dried Apricot and Orange Marmalade. The Alcohol is not fully integrated and there's a light Sting.     

Palate: Light, Young, Watery and Medium Spicy with Orange Marmalade, Malt, Alcohol, Pepper, Cloves, Nut Shells and Toffee.    

Finish: On the Short side with Orange Marmalade, Grassy tones, Toffee, Malt, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cloves, slightly Bitter Almonds and hints of Aniseed and Mint. 

I added a bit of Water and on the Nose you get more Pear Drops and Honey. The Oak softens up somehow. It does become a bit Thin though. On the Palate you get more Orange Marmalade. The Finish disappears however.  Although the Spirit becomes rather Thin when adding Water, it also softens up and smells and tastes more friendly. I advise you to experiment with a couple of drops a time. 

Rating: 80.5

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

General Remarks: Amber Glen Speyside is a young Single Malt that matured for around 5 Years in Refill Ex-Bourbon Casks. It costs around 50 US Dollars (April 2015).

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good

Conclusion: The Glen Amber Speyside is a very Young Single Malt that won't scare off beginning Whisky drinkers as it's Light and easy to drink, especially when you add a little Water. So it's okay for the probable target group. But that same youth makes it quite uneventful for more regular Single Malt Heads. The Nose is okay although the Alcohol stings a little. But on the Palate there's not much to discover and the Finish is quite Short. If Glen Amber Speyside was a Boxer, he/she would fight in the Featherweight Division. 

Bottom Line:
Today I tasted two of the young Amber Glen expressions. They are both quite light and the Speyside is very easy to drink. That makes them quite suitable for the intended target groups. They lack the depth and character however to attract more seasoned whisky drinkers on a daily basis. I do hope I will be able to taste some more mature expressions from the Supreme series or a Single Cask as well. Thanks for sending me the two samples and the best of luck to Amber Glen!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    April 23, 2015