Sunday, February 8, 2009


Stay tuned for my astute, uninformed division of Islay scotches into four mushy categories. My most recent tasting with the scotchytime all-stars got me a-thinkin'. Thanks to one certain scotchytime all-star who shared his bottle of Caol Ila 25 with a thirsty Islay aficionado.

Glen Drummond

Another scotch I sampled from the Pop's collection was one he purchased in Goa, India, which I had never seen or tasted: Glen Drummond.

It is from Scotland, but does not appear to be exported to my local area. It does not even show up on the extensive BevMo site. It cost my father the equivalent of $18 US for this gem. Sweet, like Glen Grant, slightly smoky like a northern Islay, slightly more syrupy and full-bodied than MacAllan 12 and other similarly aged Highlands. The back of the bottle's case talks about the the taste of "green apples." I failed to find any such taste.

Not highly complex, but I highly recommend this if you can get your hands on it. Goa is great this time of year.

Back in the Saddle

No pomp and circumstance, folks. Scotchytime is back, and its time to get back to business. Over the holidays, I was sampling my Pop's scotch collection, which wavers from well diversified to Highland-heavy. This time, it was the latter. I tried one of his favorite inexpensive (about $40) Highland single malts: Deanston.

As an aficionado of peaty, smoky islay scotch, many Highland scotches taste flat. Deanston is one of these. It had caramel notes, some mild spice, mild wood notes, but little more. Perhaps a good scotch to drink with powerfully flavored food? An afternoon scotch?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Vienna Scotchy Verdict

The answer to the question "how was the scotch in Vienna?" is: bad. Very bad. Below is the selection in a common supermarket:

What you can't see here is that the wine section was a whole aisle long. Scotch was given no such real estate. But. . . how about bars? Negative, Ghostrider. At some bars you would be lucky to have more than one kind of scotch available. Sorry, single malt fans-Vienna does not happen to be your kind of place.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Scotchytime in Vienna

Scotchytime has hit the road, scotchyfans. Scotchytime is currently writing out of beautiful Vienna, Austria, known more for its schnitzel than its scotch. Dutifully, I went to a local store in search of scotch. I found a total of . . . 1 kind of scotch. And it was blended. 7 Euros later, I have this:

I will rate this soon, but for now it's out for some more fried veal or fried pork.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Isle of Jura 12

I had a dram of this with one of the my Scotch All-Stars last week. I hated it. Am I missing something here?

It's smelled like Jack Daniels, had very little to no peat, had little to no oak, had no sherry, fruit or spice. It tasted simple, young and unlike any other Island scotch I had ever tasted prior- in a bad way. The first word that came to my mind was "cheap," probably because it tasted like cheap scotch and bourbon I have tasted in the past.

However- I did sip this scotch in a loud, crowded bar, didn't really get a chance to concentrate and didn't get a chance to focus on the nose. On the other hand, my Scotch All-Star and I both came to the same opinion individually. Additionally, I gave it numerous chances, coming back to it repeatedly over a period of an hour. I have also tried scotches in loud bars before, and come away with great reviews at times.

I really wanted to like this scotch, as I have liked Talisker from the Isle of Skye and several scotches from Islay. I have also enjoyed many coastal scotches as well, for their emphasis on sea salt and brine a la Old Pulteney. Sorry, Jura- for $40, this is grossly overpriced at best.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lagavulin 16

After the Laphroaig Quarter Cask, I had a dram of the Lagavulin 16. This may be the best-aged Islay I have ever tasted. Each other Islay I have tried was either a 10 (Ardbeg, Laphroaig) or a 12 (Bowmore, Caol Ila). Other scotch from the islands were in the same league with respect to age (Talisker 10, Jura 10). The only two exceptions were the abysmal Trader Joe's Bowmore 18, which tastes watered down and nowhere near 18 years old, and the Laphroaig 15, which is solid, but still prickly.

Immediately upon nosing the Lagavulin, the smell of oak emerged; this is rare in an islay, where the smell of peat usually overtakes any other smell. Upon taking a sip, the complexity of flavors surprised me. An Islay with more to offer than a handful of peat? Yes, Scotchytime fans. I did not taste the "bite" to which I referred in my previous post regarding Laphroaig. As its label declares, Lagavulin "Takes out the fire but leaves in the warmth." Well done, Lagavulin. If you are a diehard peat fan, you may favor more of the direct approach, with a Talisker 10 or an Ardbeg 10. But if you seek a more subtle peat flavor with a pronounced oak taste, the Lagavulin is your scotch. However, the cost (over $60), may keep a casual scotchyfan from this gem.

Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Yesterday, I acquired a Laphroaig Quarter Cask and a Lagavulin 16. Both are stellar. I tried the Laphroaig QC, then the Lagavulin. I rate the QC well higher than Laphroaig's 10-year expression. It still has a sharp phenolic taste and quite a bite. However, it tastes sweeter than the 10-year. The heavy peat taste remains, but the medicinal taste does not contribute so strongly to the finish. The smell of old rubber is minimal compared to the 10-year. This scotch still tastes quite young. There is a spicy, raw taste that can be minimized with some aging. My only reservation is that the QC costs about $50, where the the Laphroaig 10 can commonly be found at around $30.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Recenteats' Famous Grouse Review

Check out my pal Sku's review of Famous Grouse scotch. I know it's a blend, Scotchytime fans, but it's worth reading for the discussion of the Highland Park included in the blend. This is part of the Recenteats "whiskey Wednesday" series.

List of Scotchdoc "approved" scotch retail outlets

Here. Unsurprisingly, San Francisco has a good showing. Southern California, on the other hand, needs to step it up. Hitimewine in Costa Mesa is all we have.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Signatory Caol Ila 1992

Whilst searching the Bevmo website this interested me. Has anyone ever tried this? It seems so nondescript, it must be delicious.

Beverage Tasting Institute

Here is a link to the Beverage Tasting Institute's website, which rates scotch, among other spirits. These guys like that Highland Park stuff. The older the better. A surprise to me is the Tasting Institute's affinity for the much less expensive Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask and the Dalmore Cigar Malt. Conspicuously absent is the Lagavulin 16, which according to the Bevmo website received a 99 from the Tasting Institute. However, I can't find the Lagavulin 16 rating on the Tasting Institute's site.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Laphroaig 15 review

Disclaimer: my palate was a bit muddled when I enjoyed this last weekend. However, I was immediately able to tell the difference between the 10-year expression. The oak taste in the 15 is unmistakable. The peat is more measured. The phenols were delicate, not overpowering like in the 10-year. It is a more complex scotch with a deeper, richer color and flavor than the 10.

For a second opinion, I turn to one of the Scotch All-Stars. Here is his assessment verbatim: ". . . I've remembered the official tasting notes for the Laphroaig 15. It tastes like awesome. You can quote me on the blog."

Here it is in a glass:

Monday, February 11, 2008

Brief History of Ardbeg

An informative read.

Digital Photographic Picture Taking Machine Apparatus

Yes, Scotchytime fans. I have acquired a DPPTMA (Digital Photographic Picture Taking Machine Apparatus). Let the blurry scotchypics flow.

Ardbeg Committee

I recently became a member of this highly discriminating committee. For free. Via their website. The cover of the rule book and a part of the letter follow:

The material Ardbeg sent me was impressive. Included were: a booklet of tasting notes, a "rule book", drinking songs, Scottish sayings and other generally funny stuff. Sign up at their website here. The rest of their site is entertaining as well.

Caol Ila 12: Not Pungent. . .

A Scotch All-Star and I noted this on the bottle of Caol Ila 12 a few weeks ago. I refer to the "not as pungent" as our neighbors part. Amusing. To me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bowmore Distillery Vids

Check out these distillery videos. They've got good shots of the malting, smoking and mashing process. Here is part 1, part 2, and part 3. Worth your while.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Alexander Murray & Co.

This the bottler for TJ's and Costco's cheap whiskey lines. Does anyone know how I can contact them to get an idea of their bottling practices?

Costco Macallan 18

Here's a picture. A discussion from another blog regarding this is here. It think this will be my next buy. Granted, $60 is a lot of money to throw as something that may be a total bust, but I'm a bettin' man. Also, one of the scotch all-stars has a "real" bottle of Macallan 18, with which I intend to rigorously contrast the Costco bottle.