Category Archives: 1 – Highly Recommend

Springbank – Cask Strength 11yr Rum Finish (58%)

Park Ave Liquors Springbank 11yr Rum Finish

Please forgive me. While reviewing thsi one I had a few glasses, then a few more. I loved it so much and began to felt so good I decided to went fro a bike ride. I was trying to pour myself another when a squirrel jetted out in front of me, I lost control of the bike and hit my head pn the curb. I haven;t felt right for ad few days but Iw anted to hurry and post this in case they still had a few left. Limited editionand indie bottled Springbanks can be amazing, and this one is no exception. If you’re lucky enough to find any of this, divinely balanced and curisouyl complicated whisky, buy it!!! Actually, theirs only one spot you can find it.

In 2010 and 2011, Springbank bottled a series f store-specific singlecask whiskys. many with different cask finishes, but due to complications with labeling regulations in the US, and especially in NY, some of them went out in standard packaging rather than something with clearly defind labels, like this one that does not declare the rum finish, the specific store or single cask status anywhere on the lapel. This release is exclusive to Park Avenue Liquors in York New City, who incidentally do deliver if you’d liek to roder it online. If the printing on the inside of the label is what I think it is, this is bottle number 10 of 425.

Nose: Mint, spruce, lemon Lifesavers and light bandages. Fresh forest air and broken in leather. Apple, the color blue, with just the right amount of peat and a bizarrely mesmerizing smoke. Deep, rich malt and caramelized sugars the likes of which amateurs have not faced before. Melon rind, pineapple and Simple Green pates de fruit. Sandalwood moonpies. Sticky Paula Deen turtleface…. what? No… I’m just so… sleepy (yawn). 

Palate: Anaestheticallypeppery, with citrus peel. Dried savory. Minerally smoke rises up the back of your throat.Anaesthetically peppery with citrus peel. Drying and coastal. The finish coats your mouth with seaweed and a faintly phenolic Listerine. Dijon mustard in the finish with mineral smoke that rises up the back of your throat. Bold and daring, deos not want to leave you alone, like an annoying EMT, but more delicious than that sounds. Fall foliage and faint hints of spiced pumpkin pie over an almond base let you know what the rum brought to the table. Amzazing!  

Fuck it

Wait… what the hell’s wrong with me? Did someone hit my in the head or something? This should be Highly Recommended… hold on, I fix it.

Rating: Highly RecommendThere we go. Rabidly drinkable, complex and so delicious that you might just randomly forget where you are and what you were doing there. Don’t forget to wear a helmet!

Glenmorangie – Signet (46%)

Glenmorangie SignetRecently, I’ve been contemplating a format change. While my friends can certainly verify that my lack of comedic skills is much funnier than my actual comedy, I’ve always written this blog with the intention of being more entertaining than the regular cut-and-dried bloggers out there. Not that there’s anything wrong with being factual and to the point, I just don’t have the attention span for it. Like most Americans, I like shiny things and people being angry about stuff, stuff that validates my inner douche bag and makes me laugh, so in between tiny morsels of actual information that’s what I try to write.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that I’ve been getting it all wrong. Perusing Buzzfeed the other day, it became clear what I need to do. Apparently the real money is in articles about lists and celebrity gossip, so here are a few of the amazing stories you’ll be seeing here soon:

  • 6 episodes of Moonshiners you’ll want to drink to forget
  • John Hansell’s 15 raunchiest photos ever
  • 23 whisky labels you didn’t realize were completely racist
  • 10 stupid things checkout clerks have said to me while I was buying whisky
  • 15 bottles affordable enough to throw at family members during your next intervention
  • 18 surprising facts about Oliver Klimek’s cat
Raunchy John Hansell

John Hansell’s 15 Raunchiest Photos Ever

Ooooo! Nevermind. Opening and tasting this bottle of Signet has changed my mind. I want to write about delicious whisky, again… right after I Photoshop this raunchy pic of John Hansell, just in case.

I don’t like to brag, but this year I’ve been lucky enough to sample so many great Glenmorangie’s in a row that “awesome” has almost become too routine to notice. Thankfully, this spleen-explodingly amazing Signet is unusual and delicious enough to keep me very interested.

I think what I like most about this one is that it’s not like the rest of the Glenmorangie line. It doesn’t seem like it’s trying to be as accessible to the masses, which is my one criticism of the brand as a whole, a label which doesn’t make a lot of very risky decisions. It seems like the Signet diverges from the classical vision of the brand here, and makes an atypical move in a slightly bolder direction. This one has a strong psychological hold over me. If most single malts were ales or lagers, this one is a delicious stout.

Nose: There are loads of Szechaun peppercorns and minty pine boughs at first. Spent hazelnut coffee grinds, popcorn and clove. After a few whiffs it clears the way and starts to smell a little bit like refried beans with a lavish, whole-wheat breadiness. For a minute it smells like those wet-naps you get when you order ribs or lobster, then on to milk chocolate covered orange peels like my late great-aunt used to make on holidays. Fruit cake. Rye vinyl, handfuls of fresh torn maple leaves and Izmir Stingers, for those of you who smoked way back in the year 2000. It gets slightly more chocolate-y as you progress.

Palate: Hot, Szechuan peppercorns again, but only for the first few seconds; after a few minutes it completely disappears. Rich and savory with creamy cocoa powder, hazelnuts, buttery popcorn and traces of sweet pipe tobacco. Fig extract and spent apple peels run the middle, but it finishes like a strong cafe macchiato. The nose is definitely my favorite but the palate is great, too. The coffee notes are uncanny.

Rating: Highly RecommendChocolate malt, virgin white oak and a portion of whisky over thirty years old… the rest of their web copy is mysterious about the entire composition but this is definitely a beautiful Frankenstein of perfectly executed, disparate techniques. Young and old, light and dark, white and pendunculate, fresh and used. There is definitely a heavy sherry influence which they don’t explain, but really, there is so much going on here that it’s almost senseless to make assumptions.

Thank you to Gretha Smart and David Blackmore for the sample!

Glenmorangie – 18yr “Extremely Rare” (43%)

Glenmorangie 18I like my whisky like I like my steak; well-aged and extremely rare. I usually hit them with some salt and pepper, and then throw my steaks on a plate in the fridge for at least two days before grilling them. It dries up the outside layer, which is crucial for developing a nice crust, and pushes delicious salt through the cell walls of your cut. As with single malts, good steaks take time and patience, and shortcuts are their undoing.

Why do I bring up steak? Well, extra meaty steak and sherried whisky are a great pairing… plus this one has a subtle black pepper in the finish that makes me think of flame-licked salt crust.

The 18 year spends the first 15 maturing in American white oak casks. After that, a bunch of the casks are transferred to Spanish Oloroso casks. Then, when both parts reach at least 18 years old, they get married and bottled. 30% of the Oloroso finished stuff makes it into the mix and the rest is their normal American white oak matured spirit.

Nose: The nose is so rich on this one that it makes the world smell better after picking your nose up out of the glass. It’s much nuttier, maltier, and with more dried fruit, than the 10. The sherry spice is very obvious… and delicious. Roasted brie with almonds and honey. Juicy plums, jammy figs and hidden kiwi. Bunches of fresh grapes. Milk chocolate. Sweetly woody, like a birch drawer filled with orange mulled wine and banana bread. For moments I almost think I can smell salt and pepper, too. 

Palate:  The less expensive Glenmorangies usually have a gentle palate and don’t dare to be too audacious; this one works out to be considerably bolder. It’s sweet at first, then cooling, tinged with rich, spiced banana, raisins and a drop of bright tree resin in the back of the throat. A touch of peppery arugula bitterness rounded out with some sweet chocolate. Slightly dry finish with traces of  burnt caramel, black pepper and grape bubble gum.

Rating: Highly RecommendThe 18 Years Old Extremely Rare is very well constructed, with just enough sherry influence to make it rich without being rubbery. I do kind of wish it cost less than $95, though that criticism is for purely selfish reasons. There are plenty of other respectable 18 year olds ringing up for around $100 that aren’t quite as delicious as this. Taking some vocabulary from my beer drinking buddies, Glenmorangie is bottling a very sessionable single malt here.

Thanks David Blackmore and Gretha Smart for the samples!

Exclusive Malts – Braeval – 1994 18yr (52.1%)

Exclusive Malts Braeval 1994This Braeval bottling is one of 228 bottles, it’s definitely from an ex-Bourbon cask, I would guess a refill cask. Hot and sweet on the nose, a little bit drying, and fruity on the palate. Generalizing, it’s a nice pear-malt with a touch of meatiness. It’s like a great, cask-strength Old Pulteney, but with more blueberries.

Braeval was built in the 1970’s, under the title Braes of Glenlivet which they would change as a result of the mounting legal pressure on nearby just-Glenlivet to secure their identity and brand. The two distilleries were actually owned by the same company at the time. This cask was laid down in 1994, right around the time they changed their name, and then eight years later the distillery was mothballed. It was reopened in 2008, but hasn’t released an official bottling, yet.

Exclusive Malts tastingI picked this bottle up at a tasting in West Springfield, Massachusetts, hosted by Ed Kohl from ImpEx Beverages Inc, the US importer for the brand. The presentation was pleasantly refreshing and the line up was awesome, so if you ever see the Creative Whisky Company or Exclusive Malts doing a tasting near you, you should definitely check it out. One of the most annoying experiences for me is listening to ambassadors go over the same tired and often-erroneous speech about how whisky is made. Ed actually had a very nice (and accurate) presentation put together.

Nose: Sweet! Grilled pineapple with a dollop of cilantro pesto. Blueberries, grapefruit peel and dusty pears. A little rendered beef fat. Sweet wood. For me, water unleashes more farminess and squashes all the interesting bits.

Palate: Blueberry cobbler and vanilla! Immediately hot. Lots of drying pear. Numbing clove and raspberries into the long finish. The hints of farminess translate into dry-aged beef in the vapors.

Rating: Highly RecommendI have people ask me all the time about gift-bottles for single malt lovers in their lives. Single cask bottlings like these make awesome gifts.

Exclusive Malts – Ledaig – 1997 15yr (58.2%)

Exclusive Malts Ledaig 1997Exclusive Malts is a label of single-cask single malts chosen by the brilliant David Stirk for his project, the Creative Whisky Company. The company’s name is pretty accurate, as well; these are some awesome casks, chosen for their atypical qualities. Among them, this Ledaig is amazing. Goddamn amazing.

This sample was taken from 1 of only 341 bottles, matured in a first-fill, sherry hogshead. It’s peated, but while a lot of peated whisky can seem one note and difficult to smell anything beyond the peat itself, this one unfolds constantly. You get a few moments with each wave and then it moves you on to the next. It’s a savory dish, served in a rustic setting, by an old memory. It’s poetic and dynamic, the way all single cask releases should be. It brings me back in time while making me look forward to future releases.

Good single cask whisky is like a moment; when it’s over it’s over forever and you can never pay it another visit. In that respect, good single casks make me sad, but in a beautiful, it-was-a-good-life kind of way. Stirk isn’t into writing sad poetry, though. According to their website, he’s more into telling jokes. I asked him to send one for me to post here and he politely declined, saying his jokes were more like “long-winded… groan inducing” stories. As a tribute, I offer you this “groan-inducing” joke.


Nose: Nacho and Cool Ranch Doritos mashed up together! Lobster consommé. Funky, amorphous peat woven between individual wafts of herbed toffee, peanuts, construction paper and pine boughs. Hot seat belts, wintergreen and Parmesan. This one unfolds over and over again, unleashing so many new flavors that it’s hard to write sensible notes about them.

Palate: Peanuts!!! Unusually savory with a fiery finish that swells up on the first sip. Mild but omnipresent peat. Bay leaves and dried bell pepper. Smashed peppercorns and tangy smoke. Baking soda and barbecued lemon. As with the nose, the palate has lots of stories to tell. Amazing!

Rating: Highly RecommendThe more Exclusive Malts bottlings that I get to try, the more I love them. This one, unfortunately, is not only very hard to find because of its limited numbers, but it was also a release targeted at Belgium and the Netherlands. So, anybody going to Antwerp, I have a small favor to ask of you…

Thank you to Jason Johnstone-Yellin of Guid Scotch Drink for the sample. Cheers!

Angel’s Envy – Bourbon, batch 3J (43.3%)

Readership GraphReadership is up!!! I must be doing something right… that or Bolivia-Bot told all his friends about my page and there’s a spider party going on. Maybe I’m helping to predict the future. Maybe people are waiting for me to have some kind of legendary, Jason Russel-style mental breakdown. Then again, maybe people are just lost and aimlessly wandering here by accident in greater numbers than ever. If I had to guess, I would go with F.) all of the above.

Either way, I recently reviewed a sample bottle of Bourbon sent to me by the folks down at Angel’s Envy, but I’ve noticed some variation so I thought I’d flush out my illustration of this brand a little bit and post my thoughts on at least one more batch. This is an awesome brand and I’m very interested to see what’s coming down the pipeline next.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a bright future for my home state of Connecticut. Angel’s Envy’s rye skipped over the entire state. Their targeted distribution for smaller releases takes aim at much more lucrative markets. They wouldn’t even send me a sample of the rye because they weren’t marketing to my neighbors, despite the majority of my readership being from New York or California at the moment. What kind of evil bastards would make whisky so delicious and then put it just out of reach? Gah!

Angel's Envy modelYou can guess which direction a brand named Angel’s Envy would take their obligatory, sex-sells advertising campaign in; they travel with ladies dressed as Angels, of course. But I would think a group of angels celebrating the sin of envy would be much more insidious. They would not be the happy, white-clad, Victoria’s Secret models the likes of which Christians hope will greet them at the pearly gates. No, these would more likely be dark, fallen animations filled with rage and contempt for mortality, the type of beings you make soul-surrendering deals with in exchange for infinite power (or blog readership). In that respect, I think envious angels would probably be more like help desk technicians, but I don’t want to drink with the asshole over at AT&T Thailand who can’t resolve my broken router after a two hour phone call, so… um. Well-played, Angel’s Envy marketing department. Well-played.

Nose: Pink Starburst candies. Honey, dried apricots and sweet, sweet malt. Ceylon cinnamon? No… that’s not quite right; something halfway between that and cloves finished in a brand new bowling shoe filled with pear peels and tangerine zest. The fruit winds down after a bit and it becomes slightly oily, like white birch bark.

Palate: Pink Starburst and banana Laffy Taffy over hot waffles. Spicy like the cinnamon/clove hybrid from the nose. Sweetly woody, like a barrel aged pear cider. Fruit vapors flirt with vanilla and black pepper in the finish where the Bourbon really starts to pull through. Like the nose, the palate’s fruitiness tempers itself after a bit and lets some more wood and mint loose.

Rating: Highly RecommendWhile this is small batch, variable stuff, I can’t imagine there being a completely awful bottle of this floating around anywhere, and this specific batch is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted.