Jameson Gold Reserve challenges the stereotypical consensus that all Irish whiskeys are smooth one-dimensional spirits that are to be enjoyed only in a mixed drink or a shot glass.
Ironically, to me at least, the regular Jameson Whiskey, which accounts for far most of the 20 million bottles sold annually – and thereby puts Jameson as the best selling Irish whiskey in the world, is not only the most popular but also the worst. When I say worst I clearly mean worst in the Jameson family. The quality doesn’t even come close to what you get from the 12 year old, 18 year old, and Gold Reserve bottling. Of course, this is not unique to Jameson. Most whiskeys, although there are quite a few exceptions I must add, gain in quality as they age. What I am trying to convey here is not that the regular Jameson is bad, but rather that the rest of the family stand superior – especially the Gold Reserve.
One of the most striking differences with Gold Reserve compared to the rest of the Jameson family is that it has been matured in American virgin casks. This explains the astringent taste imparted by the tannins, defining the palate just after a wave of vanilla and scrumptious marshmallows. As the whiskey poured into my mouth this bittersweet mix of dry herbaceous notes with soft vanilla and fudge culminates almost synergistically into a very rewarding and long finish. The softer notes disappear towards the end and are replaced by pines, citrus, and wet mossy soil.
I love it! The taste is so unique with its combination of extreme sweetness and bitterness where neither becomes too dominant. The balance and complexity here is astonishing – one of Ireland’s finest!
VERDICT: Given that I am genetically dispositioned towards Irish whiskeys it comes as no surprise that I am highly addicted to this particular bottling. The bittersweet combination, that defines this whiskey, is very rare and perfectly executed. I highly recommend Gold Reserve, especially if you are into the Irish drams.
Never would I have thought that my favorite Rum would come from a European country. Least of all Germany. Aficionado is a blend of 3 to 25 year old Rums and slightly reminds me of the 12 year old Dictador with its characteristic burnt and roasted flavor. Even though there is some resemblance Aficionado has a lot more going on; instead of following a single line this rum implements both sweet and sour notes of caramel, spicy vanilla, fudge, and cocoa into the very predominant taste of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate. You can easily discern the different layers that work so wonderfully together. A very unique experience indeed.
This Rum was originally intended to be enjoyed with a cigar. Taken that I am not a cigar enthusiast – yet – I cannot say how they work together. What I can say however is that Aficionado works VERY well without a cigar. It is deliciously smooth and full bodied, almost syrupy, and has an exquisite complexity that will fulfill most rum lovers demands. The only reason why you would not enjoy/buy this rum would be if you are poor (it is pretty expensive), not into dark rums with burnt flavors or hate coffee.
VERDICT: This Rum reminds me of the 12yo Dictador, just a sweeter variant with more complexity. Its ability to combine different flavor profiles, like coffee and caramel, without ruining the experience is truly impressive. GREAT complexity, GREAT balance, GREAT Rum period!
Glenfarclas, my favorite Speyside distillery! I had high expectations for this one, maybe too high!?
My first thoughts were “where did all the alcohol go”? I had some water ready close by in case of emergency but this was clearly not needed. This is without a doubt the smoothest 60% abv. whisky I’ve ever come across. In comparison to Aberlour A’bunadh – another heavily sherried Cask Strength Speyside – this is fruit juice. Okay maybe exaggerated a bit but honestly this is Cask Strength at its smoothest.
Since my current Speyside favorite is the 12 year old Glenfarclas I unavoidably start comparing these two editions. I immediately fell in love with the mossy taste of the 12yo but, to my slight disappointment, this is nowhere to be found in the 105 Cask Strength. Still you don’t want the two to taste alike; I mean what is the point to that!? Instead of the mossy heathery taste you have delicious candied black fruits on top of a piercing bed of sherry and spices. It is amazing how different the 105 Cask Strength taste compared to the 12yo. This is not said in a bad way, I really like this dram. It might even be my favorite Cask Strength whisky, primarily because of the extreme sweetness and sherry notes that are dominating the palate.
I ended off by adding some drops of water. I sincerely don’t think this helped, on the contrary It felt more dull. My recommendation therefore is to enjoy Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength neat.
VERDICT: This is definitely the smoothest Cask Strength whisky I have tasted and also one of the few that do not improve when adding water. Sherry is the keyword here, loads of it. I can warmly recommend this Speyside if you are searching for a combination of high alcohol content, sweetness, and loads of sherry.