Tasting Notes


© F. Paul Pacult
The following reviews appeared in the March 2018 issue of F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal

ratingsUSA and Scotland Whisk(e)y Reviews

WHISKEY– USA

Barton 1792 Distillery Bottled-in-Bond
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
50% abv, $36.
Cocoa brown color; immaculately clean and particle-free. First whiffs detect candy shop aromas of caramel corn, lightly toasted marshmallow, carob, Ceylon black tea, and walnut; secondary inhalations after more aeration encounter earthier smells, including chalk, limestone, dry sand, and nickel/ore, all of which are backed by a pleasing butterscotch note. Entry showcases a bittersweet, alluringly nutty flavor profile that features candied walnut, praline, nougat, crème brûlée, and caramel corn (Cracker Jack candy); midpalate goes a more bitter route as the taste turns metallic, synthetic, and industrial, turning away from the nice candy shop direction of the entry. Aftertaste recovers some of the candy shop/honeyed aspect but retains too much of the earthy, metal coin bitterness of the midpalate. Up until the midpalate, this whiskey was looking to end up with a Three Stars/Recommended rating, but the disappointing midpalate torpedoed that prospect.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars-2Not Recommended

Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye 2017 Release
40% abv, $40.
A unique blend of Kentucky straight rye and Canadian rye with a dose of port. Red-brown/chestnut color; superb purity. The “dark” designation certainly applies to the initial nosing passes as I encounter deep, dense aromas of dark coffee, carob, porter ale, and heavily roasted grain; more time in the glass stimulates scents of seared marshmallow, burnt tobacco, cocoa, and dark bread/pumpernickel. Entry is toasty, bittersweet, and rife with candied fruit and walnut flavors, but especially dates and figs; midpalate offers a taste profile that resembles prune Danish and rugelach. Aftertaste is akin to semisweet chocolate and espresso. I didn’t pick up the port until the finish. Interesting idea in this era of broad experimentation. Would I purchase it? Doubtful. That said, it’s well-made and I see the potential attraction to some whiskey drinkers.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Booker’s “Sip Awhile” Batch 2017-04
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
64.05% abv, $75.
Tawny color; flawless clarity. Wow, this upfront aroma is all about baked tropical fruits, such as banana and pineapple, plus zesty black tea, dry sand, and loose leaf tobacco; later inhalations after more aeration discover candied fruits, holiday fruitcake, prune Danish, and candied walnut. Entry is surprisingly understated alcohol-wise, allowing for massive flavors to dominate, in particular, caramel corn, dark honey, brown sugar, coffee bean, and carob; midpalate features more of the corn-influenced tastes of grilled corn, corn flakes, and tamale. Aftertaste turns up the abv heat, but not enough to inhibit the crisp, toasted corn flavor that’s caramelized and semisweet.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Bowman Brothers Small Batch
Virginia Straight Bourbon Whiskey
45% abv, $30.
Bronze/topaz color; clear and free of sediment. I get bunches of corn-related aromatic notes in the first nosing pass, including caramel corn (Cracker Jack candy), sweet corn-on-the-cob, cornmeal, toffee, and maple; after more time in the glass, the aroma turns a smidgen riper as the fragrance starts to lean towards dried fruits, especially apricot, pear, pineapple, and green apple. Entry is dense, strikingly maple-oriented, juicy, succulent, caramel-like, and creamy; midpalate is marginally drier than the entry due primary to the emergence of the barrel influence as the taste profile turns more resiny/sappy and astringent. Concludes medium long, toasty, off-dry, and woody. The taste entry point is this whiskey’s best moment.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

elijah-craig917Elijah Craig Barrel Proof 12 Year Old
Batch C917 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
65.5% abv, $65.
Mahogany/sinopia color; perfect purity. I smell the tantalizing aromas found in early morning bakeries when the still-warm pastries are at their freshest and most fragrant, richly aromatic with sugar glaze, fruit preserves, and nut pastes; after another eight minutes of aeration, the aroma turns woodier and more spirity as the oak and alcohol influences begin to overtake the grain base. Entry is deep, dense, succulent, spirity, maple-like, and sugary – in other words, luscious; midpalate is multilayered, deeply honeyed, fruity, raisiny, oaky/resiny, and incredibly delicious. Finishes fiery, yet grainy and semisweet enough to offset much of the barrel-strength heat. There have been so many reliable, take-it-to-the-bank whiskeys released under the Elijah Craig label. Here is perhaps the flagship. Suggestion: add water to 3 to 1 ratio in favor of the whiskey for maximum enjoyment.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation

Evan Williams Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
43% abv, $14.
Copper color; flawlessly clean. There’s no mistaking the corn base of this fragrant opening aroma as vibrant scents of cornmeal, sweetened corn flakes, cinnamon, beeswax, and burning embers enchant all the way to the second passes; following more aeration, the fading bouquet turns slightly fruity and ripe as lean aromas of lemon drop, kiwi, and litchi dance upon the sturdy caramel corn foundational fragrance. Entry is plush, intensely corn syrup-like but not overly sweet as the roundness of the texture leaves deep impressions of charred oak, caramel corn, and toasted almond; midpalate mirrors the entry, adding a degree more heft to the texture. Finishes long in the throat, bittersweet, and elegant, with a final flavor of holiday fruitcake. Excellent value for money.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

four-roses125Four Roses 125th Anniversary Limited Edition Small Batch
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
55% abv, $85.
A blend of three Four Roses mashbills: OBSV (18 years old), OBSK and OESK (each 13 years old). Cocoa brown; flawlessly pure. The opening fragrances are fully integrated, caramel corn-forward, slightly prickly from the elevated abv but, man oh man, this first nosing is also sublimely ambrosial, showing an array of dried dark fruits, such as prune, cranberry, blackberry, and black plum; secondary aromatic hits pick up bakery shop fragrances like cinnamon bun, prune Danish, marble bread, and gingerbread – a spectacular bouquet on all fronts. Entry is lush and focused on the grain intensity, primarily sweet corn, but also on the residual tastes of maple, toffee, fudge, walnut butter, and baked apple; midpalate reinforces the entry findings and adds nougat and butter brickle tastes just to round off the in-mouth experience that goes on forever in the finish.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation

Isaac Bowman Pioneer Spirit Port Finished
Small Batch Straight Bourbon Whiskey
46% abv, $40.
Fetching tawny/honey color; superb clarity. The port barrel finishing is apparent right from the opening sniffs, which are winey, grapy, onion-like, and delicately spiced with faint hints of cinnamon, black peppercorn, and clove; following further aeration, the bouquet turns slightly smoked, meaty (baked ham, especially), roasted grain-like, and biscuity. Entry is delightfully tart, astringent, cereal-like, and spicy (deep tastes of cinnamon stick, clove, allspice); midpalate is where the best action on this whiskey is as dense flavors of dark caramel, honey, and cocoa bean are accented with the pruny, date-like, nicely bittersweet contribution of the port barrel. Finishes medium long, peppery, piquant, and solid.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
40% abv, $30.
Last reviewed in 2004 and rated Two Stars. Fulvous color; excellent clarity. First nosing passes don’t pick up much as the opening aroma is a bit muted, except for a feathery hint of cornbread; additional aeration assists in bolstering the aroma through more animated scents of sawdust, lumberyard, pine nuts, and unsweetened corn flakes – just not a lot happening here in terms of aromatic definition. Entry is sap-like, gently corn syrup-like, mildly spicy, and altogether pleasant if basic; midpalate shows more character as the taste profile turns honey-like, dried fruit-like (pear, apricot, black raisins), and lightly toasted. In all, a decent whiskey quaff that is well made but just a bit too lightweight and lacking in aromatics to be recommended, so I’ll stick with my 2004 score of Two Stars.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
40% abv, $16.
Last reviewed in 2007 and rated Three Stars. Cocoa brown color; impeccably pure. In the first nosing passes I pick up faint hints of corn syrup and brown sugar, plus a light touch of butcher’s wax paper; more time in the glass allows the bouquet to open up, now featuring deft scents of margarine/cooking oil, sweet corn, and buttered popcorn. Entry is pleasantly spicy (ground black pepper), more bittersweet than flat-out corny sweet, and a touch oaky/resiny and vanilla-like; midpalate highlights the entry findings and throws in comforting flavors of prune Danish, nutmeg, and creamed corn. Aftertaste is this bourbon’s best moment as the supple, satin-like finish provides loads of corny, oaky, toasted flavors that are delightful. Remains one of the best values in American whiskey.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Low Gap Rye Whiskey
43.7% abv, $75.
Amber/sandy brown color; completely sediment-free. Holy jeepers, the opening inhalations are treated to radically atypical (for rye whiskey) but wholly intriguing fragrances of butcher’s wax paper, cereal husk, polythene, arid landscape, and textile fiber; more time in the sampling glass affords the bouquet the chance to unfold as it now features unusual scents of peanut shell, dry cement, aloe spear, and parchment. Entry throws much of the aromatic impressions straight out the window as the flavor profile takes a sharp left at the corner of Piquant and Sassy Streets, offering unabashedly tangy, deeply flavorful tastes of seedless rye bread, Ryvita crackers, black peppercorn, and oak resins; midpalate largely echoes the findings of the entry. Concludes softer, zestier, but more elegant and calmed than the take-no-prisoners midpalate. This is not five-star territory but the sheer audacity of this unbridled rye whiskey makes it one to definitely try. Its greatest contribution is that it expands the accepted rye whiskey CV.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Noble Oak Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey
Double Oak Matured
45% abv, $35.
Matured for at least 12 months in new, charred, American white oak barrels then switched to Spanish sherry casks for an unspecified time. Distilled in Indiana. Ochre color; some minor sediment seen beneath the examination lamp. First smells are of caramel corn, oloroso sherry, grape preserves, and red plums; with more air contact, the aroma opens up more offering vibrant scents of pipe tobacco, menthol, plastic, lemon curd, and nutmeg. Entry is rich, sherry-like, toasty, and creamy in texture; midpalate features deeper corn-related flavors, such as cornmeal, caramel corn, and roasted corn-on-the-cob, to balance out the sherry influence, which was near dominant. Ends on a pleasantly sweet, candied note that’s warm and coating in the throat. While long-time SJ readers know my fondness for sherry oak maturation in whiskey, I think this whiskey borders on being too heavily sherry influenced. That acknowledged, I still think that there is enough overall quality to merit a recommendation.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Relativity The New American Whiskey
40% abv, $35.
Four grain mashbill using corn, wheat, rye, and barley. The label reports that this whiskey was “Naturally colored and flavored with American oak wood segments. Aged in oak barrels for a minimum of six months.” The producers call their maturation process “compression matured technology”, created to simulate the four seasons. Fulvous/topaz color; excellent clarity. Opening nose smells of dry cereal grains, newly tanned leather, sawdust, and grain-based snack cracker; further aeration does little to bring out more aromatics so I move on. Entry is toffee-like, candy shop sweet, nougat-like, and similar to malted milk balls; midpalate delves deeper into the flavor profile, featuring a nicely layered, biscuity taste menu that highlights appealing things like salted butter, Walker’s Shortbread, chocolate custard, and maple. Finishes sweet, sugar cookie-like, and in the tail end toasted marshmallow-like. The succulent midpalate and aftertaste are worth the trip.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

WHISKEY– SCOTLAND

Douglas Laing’s Scallywag 13 Year Old
Speyside Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46% abv, $79.
Lovely copper color; spotless clarity. In the opening nosing passes, I detect upfront aromas of burnt match, lemon meringue, prune Danish, fortified wine (sherry especially), and rosehips; further aeration brings out an aromatic wealth of honeysuckle, marmalade, kiwi, stewed apples, milk chocolate, and mince pie scents. Entry confirms the sherry presence noted in the early stage bouquet as luxurious, layered flavors of black raisins, dates, candied nuts, and gingerbread vie for dominance; midpalate highlights the prune Danish aspect, in particular, since the flavor profile veers in the direction of bakery shop treats, those stuffed with candied and dried fruits and nut pastes. Concludes in a succulent, ambrosial manner as the midpalate directed. A seriously yummy, near-decadent, Speyside blended malt that is a very good bargain.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster Sherry Edition
Maritime Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46.8% abv, $59.
Single malts hail from the islands of Islay, the Orkneys, Arran, and Jura. Rich goldenrod color; flawlessly clean and pure. The briny, pickle relish-like opening aroma is rife with sea air, salted fish/anchovy, loose leaf tobacco, and soy sauce; later inhalations after more air contact discover tangy, saline-driven, earthy scents of bog myrtle, bonfire, and Lapsang Souchong tea, with fruity background traces of prunes and figs. Entry is moderately salty, green olive-like, toasted, and smoked; midpalate features a broader pallet of tastes, including sweetened black tea, charcoal, cigar tobacco, honey, cocoa butter, espresso, egg white and custard. Concludes medium long in the throat, semisweet, mildly candied, piquant, and campfire embers smoky. Seems youthful in its aggression.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Douglas Laing’s Rock Oyster 18 Year Old
Maritime Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46.8% abv, $115.
Like the Sherry Edition from Rock Oyster, the single malts come from Islay, Orkney, Jura, and Arran. Jonquil/ripe corn color; ideal clarity. I pick up a less phenolic/pickle relish initial aroma than from the Sherry Edition as this first fragrance is more settled, integrated, mature, and sublime, emitting light-fingered scents of pine/cedar, sugar cookie batter, clove, hazelnut, and malted milk ball; secondary sniffs pick up additional, gently sweet aromas of pipe tobacco, jasmine, tomato paste, and dried apricot. Entry is flush with tarragon, beet sugar, dark honey, crème caramel, and grape preserve flavors; midpalate echoes the entry findings, adding candy shop notes of chocolate caramel and high cocoa content dark chocolate. Aftertaste is lush, layered, mellow, and bittersweet. A seductive maritime blended malt in its prime.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Douglas Laing’s Timorous Beastie 18 Year Old
Highland Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
46.8% abv, $109.
Pear yellow color; pristine clarity. Right from the first whiff, I get floral/spring garden scents of violet, pea pod, moss, and fresh topsoil that intermingle admirably with wood-influenced fragrances, such as oak resin, Madeira cake, and coffee grounds; later inhalations bring up alluring inland malt aromas of cardboard, ink, damp earth, and sweetened breakfast cereal. Entry immediately displays a raft of pleasant flavors, like sweet corn, bittersweet chocolate, toasted marshmallow, and brown sugar; midpalate impressions begin with astringent, acidic, and therefore cleansing flavors of citric acid (lemon zest), orange marmalade, and candied apple and then conclude with beeswax, charred oak, maple, and brown sugar flavors. Finishes medium long, more bittersweet than sweet, candied, and like holiday fruitcake.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Glen Scotia Double Cask
Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
46% abv, $50.
Double Cask is matured in mature American oak and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. Cocoa brown color; inconsequential, minor sediment seen under the examination lamp. The unmistakably raisiny/dried fig influence of the PX sherry is underscored right from the first sniffs following the pour; secondary inhalations pick up less pungent aromas of malted milk ball, dark toffee, chocolate milk, and crème caramel; it’s an attractive bouquet that leans heavily towards the sweeter side of the dry/sweet scale. Entry is unabashedly sweet and biscuity, giving off dense and deeply bittersweet flavors of sherry, chocolate covered orange peel, praline, marzipan, and candied walnut. Finishes full and viscous on the tongue and sweet and candy-like in the throat. Recommendable with a caution, as it is meant only for those whisky lovers who really hanker for sherry influence in their single malts.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Glen Scotia 10 Year Old Peated
Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
46% abv, $60.
Buff/citrine color; some particles seen but not enough for concern. The initial whiffs detect soft, tobacco ashy and wood smoke-like scents that are more like iodine than sea salt as they remind me of a doused campfire; following more air contact, the medicine chest aroma stays the course in the forms of Band-Aid and iodine, but now also adds earthy fragrances such as green tea, chai, dry leaves, and moss. Entry is lean, agile, and nicely smoky/peaty as the taste profile includes off-dry, earthy flavors of cigarette tar, seaweed, and chocolate caramels dusted with sea salt; midpalate features all of the entry impressions plus subtle carbonic notes of cigar tobacco, charcoal, and kippers. Ends on a sweet smoky note that ably sums up the whole experience.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Glen Scotia 15 Year Old
Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
46% abv, $70.
Bronze/burnt sienna color; perfect purity. Early on in the first whiffs I detect nuanced bakery shop notes of cookie batter, bread dough, but also mashed potato, Horlicks, chaff, and grain husk; later inhalations after more aeration discover very soft fragrances of black tea, scones, and oatmeal. Entry tastes include sweetened breakfast cereal, toasted marshmallow, and sugar frosted pound cake; midpalate echoes the entry findings and throws in flavors of orange peel, maple, oak resins, and gingerbread for kicks. Aftertaste is generous, more semisweet than flat-out sweet, deeply malty, and roasted.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Glen Scotia 18 Year Old
Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
46% abv, $110.
Aged in American oak, then finished in oloroso sherry butts. Fulvous/tawny color; superb clarity. I get a bit of sea breeze saltiness in the opening sniffs, but then that fades leaving behind a pleasant maltiness that’s subtle and gently sweet in a breakfast cereal manner; further air contact unleashes spicy scents of allspice, clove, and cinnamon that are pastry-like, intensely fruity, and elegant. Entry goes in a ripe, succulent direction as the sweet raisin bran-like taste headlines the first flavors, pretty much eclipsing anything else; midpalate continues the grainy/cereal-like sweetness that maintains its lead position, reducing other flavor aspects like prune, fig, and treacle to mere glimpses. Finishes malty, oaky, maple-like, and raisin-like sherry sweet.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Glen Scotia Victoriana
Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky
51.5% abv, $90.
Earth yellow/amber color; spotless purity. The initial inhalations pick up mere traces of sawdust, pumpernickel, malted milk balls, Horlicks/Ovaltine, and mown hay; secondary sniffs detect deeper fragrances of oak plank (polymers and lipids), glue, newly tanned leather, whole wheat bread, and unsalted butter. Entry is alluringly sweet but neither cloying nor unctuous, as the malted barley calls the gustatory shots by maintaining its natural crispness and acidity; midpalate is razor-edged with elevated spirit but not in the least biting or hot as the flavor profile unfolds tastes of malted milk ball, bittersweet chocolate, and praline. Ends drier than the midpalate and, therefore, with crispness and vitality.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Highland Park Full Volume
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
47.2% abv, $100.
Distilled in 1999/bottled 2017. 100% ex-bourbon barrels. Amber/buff color; flawless purity. Initial whiffs detect aromatic shades of vanilla bean, seaweed, subtle but potent abv heat, and hints of malted milk balls; secondary inhalations following more aeration discover slight traces of olive brine, sea salt, and kelp; one of the more nuanced HP bouquets of recent memory. Entry is more in line with Highland Park’s personality as the flavor profile boasts lots of seaweed, mild, almost sweet smokiness akin to pipe tobacco, vanilla custard, and holiday fruitcake studded with candied apricot, walnuts, and pineapple; midpalate soars with mellow, mature, bakery shop tastes of prunes, old honey, pralines, and almond butter. Concludes long in the throat, moderately toasted, citrusy, fresh, and maritime salty.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Johnnie Walker Red Label
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
40% abv, $23.
Last reviewed in 2004 and rated Two Stars. Bright amber color; excellent clarity. First nosings pick up very ripe scents of sour malt, wort, banana, kiwi, poached pear, and unsweetened breakfast cereal; second passes turn even more sour and malty as the aroma features the pungency of the included single malts more than the grain whiskies and that’s a plus. Entry is dry as a bone, spicy, and tart and it’s here where the grain whiskies come into play adding an acute flavor of grain husk and toasted snack cracker that provides the platform for the malt elements which are resiny, malty, and a trace salty; midpalate is where this blend does its finest work, emitting astringent flavors of cereal grains, cooking oils, and black peppercorn. It finishes with a faint honey-like aftertaste that accentuates the inherent dryness. Worthy of an upgrade to Three Stars.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Year Old
Blended Scotch Whisky
40% abv, $30.
Last reviewed in 2011 and rated Four Stars. Attractive gamboge/old gold hue; impeccable purity. Lovely first aromas include deep-roasted grain, toasty breakfast cereals, sea salt, and oak plank; more air contact releases dried apricot and walnut notes that round off the already splendid bouquet. Entry is moderately oily (though not creamy), nutty, malty and toffee bittersweet; midpalate is medium long, significantly drier than the entry, oaky, gently smoky and sophisticated in its integration. Concludes with elegance, maritime saltiness, and a chewy texture that I find delectable. Along with Chivas Regal 12 and Dewar’s 12, JW Black is a benchmark Scotch whisky 12 Year Old expression and a tremendous value.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Johnnie Walker Double Black
Blended Scotch Whisky
40% abv, $32.
Last reviewed in 2011 and rated Four Stars. Marginally darker, more topaz in color than the regular JW Black; flawless clarity. Peatier, a smidgen sweeter, more charcoal-like/BBQ-smoked than the standard JW Black; the Double Black aroma is noticeably fatter, more buttery, resiny, and more oak barrel driven than the more angular, grainy and maritime-influenced regular JW Black. Entry is medium-smoky, astringent and dry, oaky and delightfully round; midpalate displays a measure of soft peatiness and green olive brine that’s appealing but there are also dried fruit (pear, quince), candied almond, and spearmint aspects that work in harmony with the texture. Concludes in a sweet, ripe fruit, and pipe tobacco manner. A significant departure from standard JW Black, which is leaner and drier but just as yummy as this tasty blend.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars4Highly Recommended

Loch Lomond Original
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
40% abv, $25.
Light-catching amber color; pristine purity. On the first nosing passes after the pour I don’t encounter a great deal of animated aromas, so I decide to set it aside for a few minutes to aerate; after several minutes of further air contact, I detect faint traces of cookie batter, snack cracker, saddle leather, and fresh linen. Entry flavors offer hints of toasted marshmallow, truffle oil, roasted grain, and toasted multigrain bread; midpalate features the dry to off-dry bread-like graininess, which is like grain kernels and oatmeal. Ends up toasty, mildly spicy, and pleasantly malty. A simple, middle-of-the-road, entry-level inland malt that is affordably priced, but hollow overall.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars-2Not Recommended

Loch Lomond 12 Year Old
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
46% abv, $35.
Pretty bronze color; excellent sediment-free clarity. Similar to its sibling, the LL Original, there’s a paucity of aromatic animation in the opening inhalations, so I allow it additional time to mingle with air; more time helps in stimulating a few delicate (read: featherweight) scents like lemon drop, parchment, onion skin, beeswax, and textile fiber/nylon. Entry is considerably fuller and more expressive than the bouquet as round, supple flavors of wood smoke, toasted malt, shortbread, and salted butter provide plenty of sensual “grip”; the midpalate stage is this malt’s best moment as the flavor profile expands to include peanut butter, buttered mashed potato, dark caramel, and lightly smoked malt, all wrapped in a silky cocoon of texture. Aftertaste highlights roasted malt and pipe tobacco tastes. Had the aroma displayed more vitality, it would have earned a fourth rating star.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

Loch Lomond 18 Year Old
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
46% abv, $80.
Attractive copper/cocoa brown color; impeccably clean. All that I unearth in the upfront nosings are ethereal hints of candle wax/paraffin, litchi, and textile fiber so I leave it alone for ten minutes; following the additional aeration time, I pick up deeper impressions of dry sand/arid landscape, bay leaf, savory, and geranium. Entry is dappled with mineral-like, nutty, low intensity graininess; midpalate shows a brighter personality as candy shop flavors of sweetened coconut, milk chocolate, and nougat showcase the toasted malt base. The bittersweet, caramelized aftertaste is its finest moment, but it’s not enough to elevate the final score beyond three ratings stars.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars3Recommended

naked-grouseNaked Grouse
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
43% abv, $35.
A blend of single malts from superstar malt distilleries like Highland Park, The Macallan, Glenturret and The Glenrothes; matured initially in first-fill and refill American and European oak casks, then finished in first-fill oloroso sherry butts for a half year. Bright color is topaz/cocoa brown; immaculate purity. Initial whiffs detect succulent aromas of malted milk balls, candied almond, nougat, milk chocolate, and sweetened breakfast cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios); following another ten minutes of aeration, the oloroso sherry works its magic in the aromatic forms of banana bread, spice cake, black raisins, cocoa bean, caramelized onion, and dark honey. Entry is off-dry at first but then quickly turns candy shop bittersweet, as layers of baking spices (cinnamon, vanilla bean, clove, nutmeg) merge with sweet malted barley, praline, marzipan, meringue, and brown sugar; midpalate sees the entry impressions integrate, causing an explosion of decadent flavors that spill out long past this point into the rich, creamy, extended finish. A spectacular blended malt of the first rank. Tremendous value and a tribute to the art of Scottish blending.
Spirit Journal March 2018:
redstars-5Highest Recommendation

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