As part of one of the many whisky groups I’m part of, we all decided we’d be dicks to one another, but in a nice way.
So we all showed up, each with 2 whiskies: One we want empty and one mystery. And then, without knowing the order, and leaving that up to /u/31mak , we drank each one, reviewed them, and found out we’re all pretty bad at picking.
So let’s see how poorly I did, shall we? All information is down here, but we didn’t have that at the time.
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: American Oak
Malts used: 76% 18-year-old Glen Elgin, 24% at least 21-year-old Port Dundas single grain
Number of Bottles: 876
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Mineral, peach, butter, lemon, arugula
Good amount of mineral eventually opens up to some fruit. Lighter nose. Some pepper, some vegetal, nothing too strong or powerful, but nice.
Taste: Peanut butter, pepper, light cocoa, cloves, cookie dough
More to the taste now. Initial note of peanut butter leaves quick. Eventually that sweetness goes to a nice cookie dough flavour. A lot more going on here than the taste, which is for the best.
Finish: Pepper, coffee, butterscotch, tobacco, pear, vanilla, ginger/cloves
Some heat/earth eventually goes to spice, vanilla, and earth. A lot of the earth and spice pairs quite well. Good amount of tobacco here, and I typically don’t like that note. Good balance.
Conclusion: So you’re going to have the nose on this one, and assume it’s not too strong. Then the taste and finish have a nice amount of flavours. It’s young, powerful, tasty, but the nose is going to throw you off.
There’s a lot of earth going on here too, nice amount of spice, and it’s quite sweet. If you don’t like Lowland/starter/appertif whiskies, this is a skip. I like them, so my score is higher due to that, but lower because the nose wasn’t too special.
Guess: Ex-bourbon, Cask strength, 12 to 14 years, Lowland single malt?
Actually: Compass Box Double Single 10th Anniversary
Price: €135.00 at the Celtic Whiskey Shop
Cask Type: Ex-bourbon cask
Colour: 10Y 9/6
Nose: Green apple, straw, gummy bears, pastry
Sweet on the nose. Lots of tart notes, some butter, some raw sugar/fruit gummy, and then straw. Like sharing a pack of gummies with a donkey. Which I’m sure we’ve all done before.
Nothing too over the top, but nice nose on this one. The green apple/gummy bears dominate.
Taste: Toast, pear, butter, mineral, caramel, herbal, mango
The yeast notes from the Irish whiskey have become more developed. Still has some mineral notes to it, but that mixes well with the big caramel notes. It’s bouncing between savoury and sweet, which kinda works/kinda doesn’t for me.
The mango eventually takes over and balances it all out with the butter.
Finish: Embers, ginger, cloves, green apple, cashew, weak orange juice, tangerine
Nice, long finish. It’s a bit weak in the citrus at first, however the green apple, ginger, and nuttiness really add to it all. Given some time the citrus builds more and more to add some complexity.
Like the hot elements to this. Tastes like breathing in a campfire. A damp one, at least.
Conclusion: All in all a nice whiskey. It does some thing different, which is what you want in a single cask. Lots of butter, the yeast has become bread (which sounds like a peaceful salutation) and some heat on the finish.
This is for the people who are not Irish whiskey fans, as it does a lot different while still sticking to some of the roots. Makes me more interested in the distillery moving forward, assuming they attempt to emulate this flavour.
Guess: Cask strength, ex-bourbon, 12-14 years. Going to guess it’s The Great North Distillery Burke’s 14 Single Cask
Actually: The Great North Distillery Burke’s 14 Single Cask
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Age: 17 years
Cask Type: 2 ex-bourbon hogsheads
Amount of bottles: 498 bottles
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Grassy, ash, cotton, candy, lemon wood polish
Initial note is a lot of grass. Some ash too. It’s reminding me of Old Pulteney or Balblair with the grassy notes. Lots of vegetal notes.
Eventually this smells like that mouse I sprayed with Pledge when I woke up one time and somehow had Pledge near me. The next day someone slipped on the ground because the mouse ran around.
Or Pledge. It smells like lemon Pledge. Yeah, could have jumped ahead there.
Taste: Zucchini, plum, grass, ginger, passion fruit, lemon pudding, white chocolate
More vegetal. Actually this is like all the flavours rushing you at once. I’m used to the nose being huge and then a step back on the taste. This is the nose being odd and then trying to eat an entire farmer’s market, including the baked goods and without the farmer’s themselves (support them people, they are hard workers!)
Finish: Heather, Boston cream doughnuts, pepper, grassy, coconut, pineapple
More like the nose than the taste. There’s a light grass/sweet note. And it tastes like Boston cream doughtnuts. Seriously, who cares what else I say, this is tasty.
Conclusion: Decent amount of time in the cask. Cask strength, odd notes. I thought it was a highland due to the constant grass/vegetal notes, but without any coffee notes.
Lots of great flavours on the finish and taste. Nose was a let down for me, because it was mostly just lemon, ash, and grassy. Quite light. The rest? Tons of flavours. It? Fuck you, I’m Pledge.
Nice dram overall, would be nice to have a bottle on hand.
Guess: Ex-bourbon, cask strength, 16-18 years old, virgin finished Highland
Actually: Auchentoshan 17 Cadenhead Small Batch
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Sherry Octave Cask Finish
Colour: 10Y 9/8
Nose: Passion fruit, peach, cream, butter
Initial nose is lots of tropical fruit. One, specifically, which is that flavour ingredient they use in those tropical drinks. Or at least whatever gland from whatever rodent makes it seem like that flavour.
Creamy, fruity, and buttery. Smells young.
Taste: Peach, huge amount of brown butter/butterscotch, grass, strawberry
Tons of butter. Cooked butter. Which has lots of sweet caramel/nutty notes, and bounces slightly to butterscotch.
If you can avoid that flavour (which isn’t easy), eventually there’s some grassy and red fruit/stone fruit notes. But honestly, it’s butter as the king.
Finish: Heather, butter, a fat kid’s backpack full of peanut brittle, caramel, sulfur
We change from brown butter, an expert bakers fat ingredient to peanut brittle, the child of the expert baker who is going to get diabetes by the time they are eleven. And I don’t mean being hunted by the upside down.
Lots of caramel, butter, some nutty, and some sulfur which adds some dimension which is needed.
Conclusion: Young, brash, and definitely sherry influenced. Tons of butter on the taste and finish. It’s hard to bash them on that, because… well who doesn’t love the taste of butter? Not to mention the flavours it’s heavy on are actually pretty complex.
That said, dear god this tastes young. It’s rough, doesn’t care what you think, and tastes like peanut brittle. If that’s your thing, great. Me? I think I need something more integrated, balanced, and everything.
Now knowing what this is, all I have to say is this: Small casks made some youthful notes take over. Not a big fan.
Guess: Oloroso cask, 10-14 year, Highland, cask strength
Actually: Glen Moray 20 1991 The Octave Duncan Taylor
Price: $247.95 CAD at the LCBO, though the website is saying 40%, so check before you buy
Stated Age: 15 years
Cask Type: Refill Sherry Casks
Cask Number: 17064 + 17065
Colour: 7.5Y 8/8
Nose: Passion fruit, peach, pine, ginger, orange
Wait, did I start writing on the same page as the last one? Did our host pour the wrong one? Did I not drink water?
After checking with everyone else, rinsing our mouths out a few times, maybe starting a fight club and then realizing we don’t really wanna… What the heck? It smells almost the same as the last one.
This one has more youth on the nose though. Less butter, more orange. Still confused.
Taste: Lots of butterscotch, ginger, orange juice, cranberry
Alright, I’m being punked, right? What the fucking fuck?
Take a breath, make sure our host isn’t dicking around, and she assures us she is not.
So there’s a lot of butterscotch here. No nuttiness, which I’m mentioning for no reason. Some citrus here, which was missing on the last one, and some wood that has gone with the sherry.
Finish: Butter, burnt beef ends, pine, mineral, heather, peach
Alright, so this finish is different than the last whisky. I’m no longer questioning my sanity. More than usual.
The butter isn’t as strong here. No nuttiness, and some meatiness instead. More grass, some youth, and the mineral, which eventually becomes peach. Thank goodness.
Conclusion: This whisky made me swear so much that I lived up to my rap name, Vulgar Assassin (no joke, Wu-Tang clan name generator, tell your mom). It confused me so much that I thought two of the others brought the same whisky.
That said, the difference is there. It’s younger, brasher, and has a more balanced finish. It’s odd, needs work, and while I appreciate the citrus in it, it’s just brash, gets some things right, not for me.
I found out later this was the age of a whisky I don’t prefer, aged in a cask I don’t prefer, and by a distillery that I’m picky about. Given that it gets a pretty high score given all that, I’m still not a fan.
Guess: Oloroso cask, 10-14 years, Highland
Actually: Clynelish 1998 Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength
Price: $90.25 CAD at the LCBO
Cask Type: First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks
Colour: 10YR 6/8
Nose: Peanut, cherry, plum, orange, honeydew melon, oak
Hooray! It tastes different! I’m not useless (according to most)!
Strong. Very powerful nose. More sherry influence, can’t tell what kind. More depth to this, more red fruits to it, but still has some light fruit as well.
Taste: Currant, anise, caramel, Demerra sugar, butter
I’m still lost on the type of sherry. Lots of brown sugar/molasses and butter. /u/lasidar keeps saying this is his. I’m assuming it’s rum. He tells me it isn’t.
Finish: Hot, caramel, rum, orange, raisin, funk, peach, raisin bread
Hot finish. This needs water. The others I added water to in order to keep up, but this one needs water. Water opens it right up, lots of funk, even more rum.
Nice yeast notes. Lighter orange notes as well, with some good caramel.
Conclusion: Nice whisky. I liked it. Where as the others may have had youthful “needs more time” notes, this had more of the youthful “fruit, pull it now” notes.
Make your own jokes, this is review #6 in a row.
I’m quite impressed by this one. Lots of different notes. Can’t tell the type of sherry, but it was a good cask. Lots of caramel notes on the taste. I could see this as a good after-dinner drink to clear you out.
Guess: Cask strength, ex-sherry, 10 years
Actually: Glenlivet Nàdurra Oloroso
Scotch review #645-649, Blend review #68, Lowland review #33, Speyside review #191-192, Highland review #109, Whisky Network review #1087-1091
World Whisky review #248, Ireland review #66, Whiskey Network review #1092