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WhiskyCast NewsletterAugust 2010

What I'm Tasting...


Glengoyne Burnfoot (40% ABV): Burnfoot was the original name of Glengoyne Distillery from 1833 until around 1908, and this travel retail release honors that heritage. The nose has notes of oak, cream, almonds, and malt. The taste is smooth with spicy undertones and a creamy sherry influence, along with hints of coconut, banana, and butterscotch. That butterscotch note carries into the finish, along with a hint of apples. 90 points.

Dalmore 12 (40% ABV): This Dalmore expression has a 50-50 blend of American Oak ex-bourbon and European Oak ex-sherry casks.  The nose is orange peel, almonds, cocoa, and coffee. The taste is smooth and citrusy with a hint of cinnamon and a slight tartness. The finish has a lingering orange note and a touch of spice. 89 points.
 
Dalmore 18 (40% ABV): The nose is full of orange marmalade, almonds, subtle spices, and a hint of pipe tobacco. The taste is smooth and syrupy with dark chocolate, coffee, and orange peel. The finish is lingering and smooth with a hint of spice. 95 points.

Bowmore 2009 Feis Ile Limited Edition (57.1%  ABV): There are still a few bottles of this 8-year-old Bowmore Limousin Oak finish available at the distillery. The nose is warm with notes of red wine, almonds, and a touch of peat. The taste has cinnamon and smoke with hints of brine and oak, and the finish is lingering with brine and a hint of peat. A little young, and it would be interesting to taste this after a few more years in the barrel. 86 points.

Jim Beam Signature (44.5% ABV):
Beam's Booker Noe crafted this 6-year-old limited-edition release from six different grains: the usual corn, rye, wheat, and barley...along with brown rice and triticale. The nose has soft spices, vanilla, honey, and caramel notes. The taste is full of cinnamon with slight tart undertones and hints of vanilla and honey. The finish has honey and cinnamon with a hint of vanilla. 92 points.


Glenfiddich Solera Reserve (40% ABV): One of the few whiskies using the solera-style maturation process with older whiskies, along with sherry, bourbon, and new American Oak casks. The nose is spicy and nutty with cinnamon and clove notes. The taste is rich and spicy, with toffee, butterscotch, and almonds with a hint of oak tannins. The finish is warm, spicy, and lingering. 92 points.


Victoria Whisky Festival
 


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Cask Strength Media, 2010
 

Caol Ila Distillery on Islay. Photo by Mark Gillespie.
Caol Ila Distillery on Islay
Why I Score Whiskies So High...

That caught your attention, didn't it?

Actually, it's based on a perception among some folks in the Whisky Magazine web site's chat forum, where at least one poster criticized my ratings as too high. There may be some truth to it, based on a quick analysis of my ratings posted on the WhiskyCast web site. As of August 1, there are ratings for 327 different whiskies on the site, and the average rating is 90.2.

That's likely higher than many other whisky ratings, though I haven't done the math. There are a few good reasons why the numbers are high, though. Many of the whisky samples I taste are sent to me by distillers or bottlers, and they're not about to send me crappy whiskies to rate. When I buy whiskies, I'm buying the best bottles I can afford, so I'm generally not buying whiskies likely to get lower scores. Finally, as John Hansell of Malt Advocate pointed out in his "What Does John Know?" blog a while back, virtually every distiller and bottler has beefed up quality control over the last few years, and bad batches are usually caught well before bottling. Again, that means whiskies that are likely to get higher scores...and it's a plus for consumers.

For instance, in last month's newsletter, I posted notes for the Early Times 150th Anniversary Special Edition, and scored it an 86. Now, Early Times is one of the legendary bourbon brands, but to be honest, most retailers carry it on the bottom of the shelf and at a pretty low price. This was an unusual edition blended to taste like a Prohibition- era whiskey, but it's not that different from today's Early Times. In fact, today's Early Times comes off the same stills as Brown-Forman's Old Forester, with the only differences being the mashbills and the length of aging. The same quality control means both whiskies are probably going to be as good as possible given those two variances.

The one thing you don't know about my tasting notes is that there are around 300 whiskies that still need to go into the database. I've saved all of my samples, tasting notes, and scores from judging in the 2008 Malt Maniacs Awards and the 2010 World Whiskies Awards. I've slowly been adding all of those whiskies into the database as well, and fully expect the overall average score to fall as the database gets larger.

Finally, remember that I'm human, too...I like to look for positive things in every whisky I taste. That's because it may not be a favorite of mine, but an unbiased and fair tasting note will tell you whether it may suit your tastes or not. That's the reason I write tasting notes.

Slainte!

Mark
 
Visit Laphroaig at www.laphroaig.com
September in Paris...Magnifique!

Harry's New York Bar, ParisI'll be heading back to Paris next month for one of my favorite whisky festivals. Whisky Live Paris is the weekend of September 25-27 at the Palais de Tokyo on the banks of the Seine.

Special thanks to the organizers at La Maison du Whisky and Whisky Magazine France for underwriting the special episodes I'll be producing that weekend. Many of the distillers in Europe will have their new fall releases on hand, and I'll have the latest on what's coming for the holidays.

By the way, tickets are still available, and if you're going to be there that weekend, please stop me and say hello!

The Glenrothes

Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky

E-Mail of the Month
 
Dear Mark:

I
was wondering if you knew much about George Dickel Whiskey. I have come by a 1964 George Dickel 1/2 gallon powderhorn bottle. The bottle is sealed and has original serial numbering. I was curious to see if you knew anything about this bottle? Thanks for your help.

Chip Diem

Thanks for the question, Chip. To be honest, I'm stumped by this question. Perhaps one of the readers will know more about your bottle. If so, please e-mail me the details and I'll be glad to pass them on.

Glenmorangie Single Malt Whisky