Cask Experiments - I purchased a 1.5-gallon new oak barrel over a year ago. The first fill I put in the cask was my own Manhattan blend, that was 2:1 Bulleit Rye and Martin and Rossi Sweet Vermouth and Angostura bitters. After sitting in the barrel for about 4 months, I emptied it out and had my own “Barrel Aged Manhattan.” The mix picked up a lot of oak notes, but it was still pretty good. For the next fill of the barrel, I used three bottles of Speyburn Bradan Orach. They were in the barrel for another four months and just pulled out a few weeks ago. The whisky after aging in the cask drastically changed in color and had a strong spice taste on the palate. I invite you all to try some in the near future and we can discuss in more detail! Submitted by Matt K.
Whisky and Cigar Pairing Recommendation - In preparation for a 2-year old's birthday party, I have found the Loch Lomond 12 hiding behind a few bottle in my kitchen and have been drinking it somewhat regularly throughout the last two weeks. I have found that it pairs nicely with the Alec Bradley Superstition cigar as well. Just for the record, I typically smoke a cigar and have a dram while in the hot tub, and I have yet to have a bad combination of the three, so take my recommendation for what it’s worth. Submitted by Matt K.
The Resurgence of Scotch, Single Malts, and Its Impacts - If you're a serious scotch drinker (and you must be if you're visiting our website) you are well aware of the surge in interest and drinking of scotch, especially single malts, over the last 10 years. While many have hailed this growth as being great for scotch drinkers with the recent rise in the number of various new expressions being introduced from existing distilleries and opening of new distilleries, it hasn't been all for the better.
The distilleries have taken hits to their holdings of older whiskies and their supplies of whiskies in general. Another consequence, as would be expected, older whiskies have become more expensive and rarer. Clearly the law of supply and demand is alive and well in the pricing models of the scotch industry. Take a look some time if you haven't looked for a while at some of the 18- to 25-year-old prices (say Macallan 18 and 25, for example), I'm guessing you'll be somewhat surprised. Another result of these hits to the industry's stocks has been selected and familiar age-statement bottlings disappearing from some distilleries' line ups that have been replaced by no-age statement (NAS) expressions. Although we may mourn the passing of some our old favorites, some of the new NAS expressions have been quite good.
One puzzling (while not entirely puzzling, I do understand marketing) trend has been the increase in one-time only new releases. While some may like this and look forward each year to each distillery's new offering, I think it's a mixed bag. Despite all the hype that goes with the launch of a new expression, not every expression is as great as its marketing proclaims. It's one thing to shell out say $10 for a new six pack of micro brewed beer to try and another to shell out $100+ (which seems to be the most popular price for these annual new bottlings) and then find out it's not as good as they said it was. Call me old fashioned, but one of the things I like about my favorite age statement single malts was their consistency from to year to year and knowing what to expect when I bought them. I know the Scotch industry is reveling in the boom right now and as the old saying goes is "Making hay while the sun shines," but they need to be careful they don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg. Submitted by David R
What's the One Single Malt You Can Always Identify Just by Color, Smell, and Taste Alone? - Everyone has a favorite tipple! You know the one I mean, it's that one whisky you always have in your whisky holdings (meaning you've bought it more than once, probably a number of times) and is your go-to-malt. But how well do you really know it? You probably have seen it, nosed it, and drank it often enough that you feel you know it by heart, but do you really? Could you consistently pick out of a random group of say four different but similar single malts? Would you be willing to put money on it? Or are you not that confident? That said, what's the single malt you think you could pick out of single malt line-up? Submitted by David R
The Rise of No Age Statement Whiskies - Good Thing or Not? - If you are a lover of single malt scotches and have been drinking single malts for years, you have no doubt had it ingrained into you that age matters when it comes to whisky (scotch or otherwise). If you’re lucky and have the financial resources, you have hopefully had the good fortune to sample some older bottles from the venerable range of the 18 to 25 year old bottles from some of your favorite distilleries, perhaps you have even been fortunate enough to have some the over 25 year old bottles (Ah, for another bottle of Bowmore 30 Year Old). If you have sampled over the years older whiskies, count your blessings, because as any scotch drinker knows we are entering the age (pun intended) of No Age Statement (NAS) whiskies.
As the story goes according to the press, the rise in popularity in single malts after the leaner years of say 15 years ago has led to shortages of older stocks at most distilleries and hence to an increase in NAS whiskies. At the same time of course, we are also being told by distilleries and the press that the rise in NAS whiskies is not solely the result of a shortage of older stock but also reflects a growing trend at distilleries to create more diverse expressions of their whiskies as well as efforts to target more diverse flavor profiles. Over the last couple of years we have seen the introduction of various Ardbeg NAS expressions, Talisker Storm, Auchentoshan Virgin Oak, Laphroaig Triple Wood, Glenmorangie Companta, as well as more recently, the release of Oban Little Bay.
And while there has been a rise in NAS bottlings recently, NAS bottlings have been around for a while like the Auchentoshan Three Wood, a personal favorite of mine.
So my question to you is this, is the rise of NAS bottlings a good thing for scotch lovers, a good thing for the distilleries, a good thing both, or does it even matter given how good many of the NAS bottlings have been? What do you think? Submitted by David R
Legs - What the hell are they really and do they matter? - The terms legs or "tears" are used to describe the drops or streaks that form and drip down the insides of a glass after you swirl the whisky in the glass. We comment on them in all our tastings but there always seems to be questions or a bit of confusion about what they really mean. So, I thought it might be interesting to see what has been written about them in books and on the web. I scoured all the books I owned and then searched the web and here's what I have found that others have written about them (since this is not an academic treatise, I will spare you all the footnotes, but will state upfront that these are other people's views on legs not mine. Apologies to the authors for not referencing them directly or quoting them incorrectly.)
So according to what I have read:
Faster legs running down the glass suggest younger whiskies (except for cask strength or heavily sherried whiskies).
A ring of pearls forming in the glass suggests the whisky is probably 50% abv or above.
A trail from pearls and slow drops suggest oils in whisky.
Long, thick, slow legs suggest a full-bodied whisky.
Lighter, less prominent, faster legs suggest a lighter-bodied whisky.
Slow legs suggest oil, fuller-bodied whisky usually because of age or new-fill cask.
Long legs suggest higher alcohol content.
Legs have to do with alcohol content not necessarily the quality of the whisky.
Clearly, there are a lot of different opinions out there, no wonder we have problems figuring it out. The common thread seems to be that tears are an indicator of alcohol content (which if you have the bottle, you already know what it is and do not have to guess based on the legs). However, since whiskies that are high in alcohol may be harsher than those with lower alcohol levels, it may also give some indication of the whisky’s smoothness. So, given all the above, what do you think? Are "legs" even worth talking about? Submitted by David R