So as most people know by now, I kinda went on a bender on my vacation to the UK. 50 whisky samples in 15 days was both awesome and completely stupid, as I’m on medication where I’m not really supposed to have more than 4 oz. of hard liquor per week.
None the less, I came back, cut back, and was doing well (other than one trip to my favourite pub in Toronto for a couple more drams).
So when I entered the Mystery Dram swap, I had one of two expectations: 1) Customs had me on a watch list and my drams wouldn’t get through or 2) I’d end up getting one, maybe two samples, and last weekend my liver would only worry about chocolate.
Instead, an awesome, great swapper sent me 5 drams. And due to Canada Post being so efficient, they showed up right on Friday. After I had a very rough day. Which was amazing, unless you’re my liver, then you just have to suck it up buttercup, as originally these need to be done for last Monday!
This is the very definition of a first world problem: I had 5 drams to review, and 2 days to do it (I was at a Bachelor party where I was the DD last Sunday).
Well luckily I was still in “drinking shape” from the UK, so I sat down and did #1-#3, and then after a Borderlands and Top Gear marathon with my wife, did #4-#5. Also if I guess even one of these correct, I’ll be tickled pink.
Mystery Sample #1
Colour: Brown Crayola Marker
Nose: Soft smoke, peach, currants, generic berries, yoghurt & fruit, allspice, caramel
Very gentle nose, yet also kinda weak. I’m getting quite a bit of fruit from it.
Taste: Curry, grapes, smooth, mineral, pork chop, weak paprika, cherry, vanilla
…And all the Fruit is gone (except some grapes). It’s smooth, yet there’s something about this that’s not really pleasing. Could be the mineral flavour. Could be it’s somewhat dry and I’m missing all the fruit smells I had before. Maybe I’m just being a big baby.
Finish: Dry wood, initial blast of cigarettes, mushrooms, truffle oil, brandied cherries, ginger, burn
The cigarettes fade after a bit and then this turns earthy, very dry, and a lot of burn. Reminded me of why I never smoked tobacco.
Conclusion: The nose was nice, the taste was okay, and the finish was muddled and had an initial flavour that turned me off of it. Eventually the brandied cherry taste takes over, yet the burn is too much for me. Not something I’d buy a bottle of, yet I’d probably still drink if offered.
My Guess: Aged in a Bourbon Cask, Abv 43%, Maybe a Bunnahabhain Independent Bottling?
Actually Glenlivet 18
Mystery Sample #2
Colour: White Oak with vanish
Nose: Orange, wheat, alcohol, melon, grass, tart
Simple, very tart and vegetal, reminds me of a drink I had a few weeks ago. Granted that doesn’t narrow it down, but it’s very familiar.
Taste: Pear, agave, habanero, plum, blackberry, oregano, taffy, lemon, cinnamon, grapefruit
There’s a mixture of heat, sweetness, and vegetal flavours here. It almost feels like there should be something there, yet I’m having trouble picking it up. Quite acidic and sweet.
Finish: Wood, damp, blueberries that are too big, parsley, dry apple, raspberry
Kinda a let down on the finish after the taste made up for the nose. It’s too faint to really step up to the plate, just dry and woody. Pity.
Conclusion: Simple nose, nice interested taste, weak finish. It’s too vegetal for me, the hints of fruit are there but only hints. It’s rougher than it should be, and I think it’s quite young (watch it be 21 years or something).
My Guess: Longrow CV. I had the 18, this reminds me of it. Maybe it’s Hazelburn instead, either way, I’m not really a big fan.
Actually Johnnie Walker Green Label
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #83
Mystery Sample #3
Colour: Yellow Gold
Nose: Salt air, floral, papaya, smoke, coconut, dry, orange, mango
Oh man do I love me some papaya. And so few actually have a papaya smell. This is good papaya. Can you tell I like saying papaya? Just rolls off the tongue, papaya. Now the papaya is on the floor, cause you rolled the papaya off your tongue.
Taste: White sugar, hot, orange, ginger, allspice, rose water, lemon, red hots, tomato, carrot, iodine
Holy damn this is hot! And really sweet and spicy. No more papaya, more of a balanced mixture of flavours from different regions. Hmmm…
Finish: Cedar, caramel, salt, gravel, lots of basil, zuchinni, lemon candy, dry
Short finish, which is too bad. After the taste, I wanted something to make up for the heat, yet it’s mostly just really dry and somewhat sweet/vegetal.
Conclusion: I want some papaya now. Wait, not the point, stay on target /u/TOModera .
Okay, it has a nice nose, the taste is almost there, and the finish needs some work. Not a bad whisky by any standard, it balances a lot of different elements well. Probably go for a sherried or older expression though.
My Guess: Highland Park 15
Actually Glenmorangie 18
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #84
Mystery Sample #4
Colour: Burnt wood
Nose: Sour green melon, wood, cinnamon, burnt orange, sand, very light peat
The peat only comes out after 30 minutes of sitting back and nosing this. It’s very subtle. Smells familiar too… almost like my last shipment that had a mystery dram in it… hmmm..
Taste: Peat, cinnamon, dry pear, licorice, smoke, lime rind, pepper, tar, vanilla fudge
The peat surprised me like my cat jumping out at me in the dark. Wait, why is that the most surprising thing for me? Geez, I have to get out more.
Anyway, nice spices, good tar and smoke, great sweetness, just enough dryness to balance things out.
Finish: Peat, mushroom, black licorice, cocoa, burn
Simple yet nice finish. There’s a bit of burn here that may put you off, yet otherwise it’s peaty, earthy, and a little sweet and bitter. Kinda like me.
Conclusion: I could see myself sipping this and enjoying a nice evening. Or in this case sipping it and watching more Top Gear… yet I digress. It has a slow, evolving nose, just enough peat and fruit, and a simple yet not unpleasing finish. I’d buy a bottle.
My Guess: Benriach Athenticus 21 year or Benriach Septendecim 17 year
Actually The Balvenie 17 year Peated Cask
1001 Whiskies to taste before you die review #85
101 Whiskies to try before you die review #24
Mystery Sample #5
Colour: Orange wood
Nose: Wood, burn, Xmas pudding, plums, carrot spice loaf, light smoke
A lot of spices on this one, yet there’s definitely either a port or sherry influence. Either that or this is a Lowland with balls. Gigantic balls.
Taste: Raspberry, peach, iodine, smoke, cinnamon, apricot upside down cake
It’s fruity, and there’s peat. Eventually this is the only thing you can tell about it. At first you’re like “Wow” and then after 20 minutes and it hasn’t really evolved you’re like “okay”. It’s nice to sip, and the initial reaction makes it worth it. Kinda like sex.
Finish: More apricot, raisin, orange, brown sugar, butterscotch, lime pulp
You like apricot? Then we have a whisky for you! Cause that’s the main flavour!
Conclusion: The fruit flavour is the main drive here, and that’s both stops it from being amazing and changes it from being boring. It’s great because it has these nice flavours that mix well in the taste and nose. It’s not great because eventually it’s alcoholic smoked apricot juice. I wouldn’t buy a bottle yet I’d probably still have 1 dram every so often, sitting in my slippers in front of a fireplace, staring at the bear skin rug.
My Guess: Bowmore Voyage Port Finish
Actually Glenfarclas 21
101 Whiskies to try before you die review #25
Scotch reviews #113-117, Blend #8, Highland #19, Speyside #32-34, Whisky Network reviews #145-149