Flavoured whisky… it’s a bitch, isn’t it? A new idea, brought forward by a bunch of people who don’t spend half the time of even the beginner of beginner’s of whisky. It’s Cinnamon or Cherry or Honey bullshit, that’s what it is.
Except.. wait, what about Drambuie?
So yes, that’s a strawman.Completely. Most people here probably don’t mind or even enjoy a flavoured whisky every so often.
It’s annoying, but it’s been here for awhile. And it’ll keep being around.
Since 1746, if the legends are to be believed of Prince Charles Edward Stuart fleeing to the Isle of Skye and giving it to Captain John MacKinnon of Clan MacKinnon the prized recipe.
Granted that’s bullshit, but just according to Historians, and what do they know?
So it was made commercially in Edinburgh in 1910, after many years of being upgraded by the Clan and later James Ross, a Hotel owner on the Isle of Skye.
That’s over 100 years ago. That’s a pretty long time for a flavoured whisky to be around.
Thus it deserves a review. As well as the older version, Drambuie 15, an older version that isn’t NAS. It’s made with 15 year Speyside whiskies, and is a bitch and a half to find.
Price: $41.70 (CAD) at the LCBO
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Honey, grass, alcohol, hairspray, almond
So, what a surprise? Something that has honey heather and spices in it smells like… honey and hairspray? Okay, so the alcohol takes over quite a bit, however there’s still a distinct honey heather smell (having smelled heather before in Scotland, I can properly attest to this)
I mean… what was I expecting? Gorse plant smell?
Taste: Honey, almond, currant, peach, pepper
More honey, yet there’s a light stone fruit note that comes up too.
Less alcohol burn. It’s like drinking a liqueur, which isn’t a surprise, because… it is one.
Finish: Almond, grass, honey, pepper, cucumber, lemon
More almond (am I being poisoned?), more grass, and more earth. Same same same.
Conclusion: It’s meant to be simple. It’s a young whisky (I guess) mixed with herbs and heather to make a smooth drink that mixes well with other whisky. Surprised? Not really.
However it’s not overly sweet like other flavoured whisky, it’s not painful to drink, and actually goes well in a mixed drink. Heck, Manhattan’s made from this are really, really good.
I’d say try it, and have it on hand for mix.
Price: No longer available at the LCBO
Colour: 2.5Y 7/6
Nose: Smoke, honey, cereal, tomato, grass, lime, alcohol, noughat, caramel
Hmmm, smoke and honey. Like tasty, tasty BBQ done right, this is so nice. It’s sweet, yet there’s a cereal note in there too that balances it out over the NAS Drambuie.
Might still be a little too sweet for some of you, however it’s more balanced, less raw (yet still kinda raw).
Taste: Pepper, cilantro, lime, honey, melon, caramel, ginger
Hot, yet not overly so; honey is still there, yet the old slight peach is now more fruity, and there’s more spice to this one.
Guess they saved the good ginger for the older stuff. No surprise, really.
Finish: Butter, caramel, pepper, lemon, lavender
Buttery, caramely, yet somewhat short, and without any honey, which is somewhat the point. The floral notes are a tad strong.
Conclusion: Probably the best flavoured whisky on the market. At least the best one I’ve tried. There’s a greater depth of flavour here.
It’s somewhat disjoint, and that’s probably trying to balance the flavours of the whisky with the heather, spices, etc. Still nicer than the regular, and a must grab if you see it.
Scotch reviews #344-345, Blend reviews #40-41, Whisky Network review #513-514