Thanks to twiddleDD for these samples.
I don’t avoid blends, I merely weep for their current state. I’ve said it before that grain whisky takes a long time to be flavourful. So when you then take said grain whisky and then mix it with a blend that has an age statement denoting that the required amount of time hasn’t been spent… sad panda exists.
I mean, for now until they end up extinct or something.
Enter Johnnie Walker. I’ve had ones I’ve enjoyed. There’s a chance I could enjoy others. And voila, we have two offers from them that may be nice.
Johnnie Walker 10 Triple Grain American Oak is a blend of Wheat, Corn, and Barley Port Dundas whiskies and then some Cardhu and Mortlach. Alright, Port Dundas is closed, so the grain may have some age on it. And there’s an age statement… so maybe not. Well there’s a chance, right? The master blender used to work at Stitzel-Weller. That’s some pedigree there.
So let’s see how it is, shall we?
Price: € 150
Colour: 7.5Y 8/8
Nose: Vanilla, passionfruit, orange, daisy
Alright, nice fruit and vanilla from the years in ex-bourbon. Good floral aspect from the grain. It’s not really doing much beyond vanilla, however.. Well there’s a reason that’s in all of your baked goods (it’s quite nice).
Taste: Banana, grain, vanilla, cream, butter
Here we go, initial banana note and some vanilla and then the rougher, simpler notes. Lots of milk notes with the butter and cream, but that rough grain note takes you out of enjoying it.
Finish: Mineral, chalk, grain, alcohol, black pepper
Wow this finish isn’t good. Lots of earthy/mineral/alcohol/hot… Just no. None of the finish is good. This needs more time.
Conclusion: If that finish didn’t suck, this would be nice. Which is too bad. This is well blended: The idea that you can take some grain and some malt to make something younger taste interesting shouldn’t be dismissed: However missing a key element of the flavour profile? This should be an average whisky, a nice comparative unpeated version to the Black or Double Black, and instead it’s just rough.
Johnnie Walker 10 Select Casks – Rye Cask Finish is a similar idea to the above: Cardhu is the main malt and it’s blended with grain. However where it differs is they’ve deemed we can have some more Abv. this time (thank you sir), aged it in first-fill bourbon casks (alright), and then finished the whole thing in ex-rye casks (must be my birthday!)
Ex-rye cask whiskies take some finesse to really show off, as anything too strong and you lose the entire reason for using them. But Cardhu isn’t peated, and the grain isn’t either (that I know of), so we have that going for us.
So it could be nice, it could be not so nice, and the only way to figure it out is to put it into our faces.
Price: € 37.95
Cask Type: First Fill Bourbon / Finished in Ex-Rye Casks
Colour: 5Y 8/10
Nose: Orange, butter, cotton, plum
Alright, ex-rye and orange, gotcha. And some floral notes, we had that before. Probably the Cardhu influence. Not bad on the nose, but simple.
Taste: Plum soap, butter, grapefruit pith
When I was a child I remember the first time I tried “soap gum”. And while I do love floral elements in my whisky that childhood horror moment in which I chewed something that tasted like that time I said fuck too many times isn’t doing it for me.
Bitter, butter, and soap.
Finish: Soap gum, plum, ginger, alcohol
More soap. Hot, god I can’t stand this, it’s too heavy on soap and orange and heat. This is a mess.
Conclusion: I really hate drinking or eating soap. This is a soap/orange heavy rough mess.
So I run into an issue here: I’m not the biggest fan of orange being the main flavour by itself, this is bitter (which I’m adverse to), and the finish is more of soap with some missteps. It’s like if you asked me if the Taylor Swift album was good: I’m not into all of her music so I’m not the best.
But let’s get down to trying to be objective: There’s something here that, if you love soap and bitter, will work well. An alternative aperitif, maybe. But as a whisky that you can drink normally? No, it has too many stumbling blocks. It’s bitter, there’s too much booze on the finish, it’s taken on too much of one element, and just skip it.
Scotch review #1344-5, Blend review #119-120, Whisky Network review #2015-6