Review: MACKMYRA Brukswhisky – #41 hit

BrukswhiskyI am from the old school; skeptical of anything produced outside Scotland and claiming to be whisky. Several times my mistrust has been confirmed especially by unfortunate experiences with Japanese whisky. So naturally I have been avoiding Mackmyra ever since its introduction in Sweden 2010. There was no doubt in my mind that this was just another feeble monkey-see-monkey-do attempt to copy the unexcelled art of producing single malt scotch. So do I think they succeeded?

I guess it was just a question of time before I had to give Mackmyra a try. Especially considering its broad success in Sweden. So when a close relative offered me a glass the other day I did not decline. Luckily so, because this is not bad whisky in any way. On the contrary it brings something rather new to the wide collection of single malts with already established names. Even though it packs a big alcoholic punch Mackmyra succeeds in delivering various floral notes in a very light and subtle way. The floral notes are also accompanied by dried fruits most notably apple and citrus in a well balanced fashion. I would label this as a summer whisky because of its light and fresh character and can warmly recommend it to people who want to try something different from scotch.

VERDICT: Did they succeed? I would say yes with minor objections. I like the myriad of floral and fruity notes. This is something I have not experienced in many other whiskies. On the negative side it is very light bodied, almost watery, and does pack somewhat of a punch. Still I would definitely go for a Swedish than Japanese whisky if I had nothing else to choose from.

  (6.2/10)

Review: MARTELL Cordon Bleu – #16 hit

Cordon Bleu Cognac is one of those cognacs that don’t stay in the glass for long. It sinks down so easily that before you know it you are pouring yourself a new glass.  It leaves you with mixed images of baby blankets, cigar smoke, and tropical islands in the pacific. Celebrating its 100 birthday last year (2012) with a bronze medal from IWSC Cordon Bleu is still going strong. PMartell-Cordon-Bleuersonally I prefer this as opposed to Martell’s XO. This is not because of the price, even though you can get almost two bottles Cordon Bleu for the price of one XO, but because it is so perfectly balanced and utterly smooth. This is truly fluid candy and yet it has subtle notes of oak and ash that appear at the end. The exotic fruits are overwhelming and even though Cordon Bleu might lack some complexity I am not complaining!

VERDICT: Cordon Bleu should be in any Cognac enthusiast’s collection. I guarantee you that this is as smooth eaux-de-vies gets. It has the perfect balance of sweet fruits and oak and you don’t have to spend a half paycheck to get it (you can find it around 100 bucks I reckon).

  (8.2/10)

Review: ISLE OF JURA Superstition – #25 hit

Before becoming a slave to Islay whiskies I remember tasting Isle of Jura Superstition and thinking “this is actually not that bad”. A couple of weeks later I bought myself a bottle which started to set things in motion. Like a drug addiction I started to seek towards stronger and smokierwhiskies until I ran into Islay whiskies. I surrendered and had found my peace. I still have a Superstition now and then, but now more as a casual drink.Jura superstition

This is a light bodied single malt with earthy peaty flavors combined with caramelized popcorn and just a tad of smoke. There is almost no bite at the end but the aftertaste puts me somewhat off. Still this whisky showed me the path which I am eternally gratefully for.

VERDICT: I can’t help comparing Superstition to other peaty single malts and when I do it falls short. Not because it is bad in any way, I’ve just grown accustomed to Islay smokebombs I guess. It is like drinking Budweiser when you are used to Trappist beer (okay maybe not the best comparison). When that is said I do think this is a very good entrance to peaty single malt and it certainly lives up to its slogan: Subtly sweet yet smoky.

(6.3/10)

Review: BOULARD Grand Solage – #26 hit

Boulard Grand Solage is most commonly seen at a cheap price (around 20 bucks) in the tax free section in airports and border-shops. This doesn’t exactly inspire high value if you ask me. Still something I’ve learned throughout the years is that price and quality don’t always go hand in hand. Naturally I had to give this one a try. I am glad I did!

Originating from Normandy’s high-quality Pays d’Auge region this Calvados is produced from a blend oboulard grand solagef Calvados varieties from the Pays d’Auge of which the age varies from 2 to 5 years. Despite its young age it manages to keep up appearance as a mature and smooth apple brandy. There is little complexity – in contrast to Boulard XO – but very noticeable notes of ripe apples. Because it is not as heavy as Boulard XO it doesn’t lose your interest, not even after several drinks.

VERDICT: Considering its young age and the cheap price Boulard Grand Solage is a real bargain. The delicious taste of green ripe apples far outweighs its shortcomings. If you are new to apple brandy I think this is an excellent first choice (For what it is worth Grand Solage was the one who triggered my obsession with Calva).

  (8.2/10)

Review: ELIJAH CRAIG 12yo – #53 hit

Elijah Craig was a Baptist minister from the 1800th century who many believe invented the making of bourbon. elijah-craig-12This 12 year old small batch bourbon won double gold in SFWSC 2008 and is viewed by many as one of the finest bourbons on the market. I moderately agree on this even though I prefer the 18 year edition over any other bourbon. When taking the first sip old leather boots comes to mind. Without being deafening you have the characteristic oaky notes coming through but still leaving room for sweetness in form of vanilla and toffee. It packs a punch but without delivering too much of a burn.

VERDICT: An overall good bourbon! If I were to mention anything negative it would be the lack of character. Nothing really stands out, flavor-wise that is. I would probably not be able to distinguish this from other 12 year old bourbons in a blind test.

  (7/10)

Review: REMY MARTIN XO Excellence – #22 hit

Supposedly the taste of Excellence this XO is a blend of over 300 cognacs whereof most come from the Grande Champagne region and have aged from 10 to 37 years. Among the four biggest houses – Hennessy, Courvoisier, Martell, Remy Martin – this is my least favorite. It is not that I don’t like it or find it inferior to VSOPs, I just don’t feel there is anything to write homRémy-Martin-XO-Excellencee about. Why this is I am not 100% sure but there is something about the taste I can’t put a finger on. In addition to this I find it slightly one-dimensional compared to the rest. As it enters you are welcomed by the traditional velvety flavors of dried fruit and exotic spices and as this might sound good there is nothing extraordinary about it. It desperately needs character in my opinion. The ridiculously high price also puts me off. When all that is said this XO is not bad, not at all. It is just not for me.

VERDICT: I guess the saying “all dressed up and nowhere to go” would perfectly fit the description of this cognac. Excellence it is not.

  (7.6/10)

Review: ABERLOUR A’bunadh – #9 hit

At cask strength 59.7% abv. (batch No. 28) this whisky is always my pick if I have had a terrible day at work. Without water it is somewhat of a monster; first sip was followed by a massive alcoholic blow accompanied by an enduring burn in my pharynx. After taking another sip the alcohol became less predominant and gave way for a complex mixture of spices, sherry and old oak. Sweet flavors also appeared as vanilla and caramel lingered on the palate. After awhile you get used to the alcohol burning in your thbunadhroat. Nevertheless I decided to add some water this time. I can’t believe that I have had this bottle for over a year and never done that. It changes everything. Both sherry and oak becomes more prevalent and it opens up for different sweet flavors like chocolate and dark fruits that rise above the otherwise gentle notes of vanilla. This is a VERY complex single malt that I can highly recommend. However I would urge people to add some water (and not wait a year until the bottle is almost empty)!

VERDICT: Powerful not only in alcohol but also in taste. It is without a question one of the most complex drams I have encountered and it is definitely not for the weak hearted (unless you pour a good amount of water in your glass).

  (6.9/10)

Review: BALLANTINES 17yo – #20 hit

Okay so I bought this bottle for one reason; “whisky of the year 2011” according to Jim Murray. A whisky that scores 97.5 points out of 100 and beats all the single malts must be close to perfection I thought. I was wrong!

This is good whisky especially considering it is a blend. Still it is not my favorite blend. I have tried really harballantines_17d to narrow down what it is that makes Jim Murray refer to this whisky as “One of the most beautiful, complex and stunningly structured whiskies ever created”, but I’ve failed.

Anyways I really enjoy this blend. One of the main reasons is because of its Full-bodied and thick oily palate. The alcohol is nicely concealed and there is a good balance between peppery spices, herbs and butterscotch which, I guess, contributes to the complexity everybody is talking about. In contrast to other smooth whiskies this one offers more depth and even though it will never reach my top ten I can warmly recommend this dram if you are hunting for a smooth and complex blend.

VERDICT: Perfectly viscous with nice contributions of both butterscotch and peppery spices. A great whisky that rises above most other blends out there.

  (6.7/10)

Review: DICTADOR 12yo – #56 hit

This Colombian rum is named after Severo Arango y Ferro who was nicknamed “Dictador” after his success with establishing trades with Spain in the 18th century. Just like its attractive bottle this rum is very dark both in taste and color. I would even go as far as to say that this is definitely the “darkest” rum I have tasted. When I say dark I refer to a very piercing taste of burnt cocoa and oak. Still it is uniquely balanced with a delightful taste of caramel and as it drools down the throat it leaves traces of toasted nuts, tobacco leafs, and creamy toffee that fades away slowly. I love this rum not only for its unique taste but also dictador-12for its darn cool bottle design.

VERDICT: I can sincerely say that I have never tasted rum more roasted and burnt than this one. The flavor is unique and I warmly recommended this rum to people who don’t mind going beyond the beaten path. I should mention though that some friends of mine (who love Zacapa 23yo and El Dorado 12yo) did not fancy this one at all for some reason. Personally I can’t wait to taste its eight year older brother!

  (8.1/10)

Review: CHIVAS REGAL 12yo – #4 hit

I had an experience the other day that made me realize that I have become a whisky schivas12nob! Last year I received a 12 year old  Chivas Regal from my father-in-law. The thought was nice enough. He knew that I liked whisky so he bought something he was familiar with. After about a year standing on the shelf I thought that, out of common courtesy, the least I could do was to taste it. So I did. It is not like I have never tasted Chivas Regal before, but something has happened since then. I could seriously not force myself to drink this stuff so I ended up pouring it into the sink. After the disturbing experience I had to calm myself down with a Bowmore 16yrs just to convince myself that my taste buds were intact. I guess there is no denying the fact that I have officially become a Whisky Snob!

VERDICT: Arghh…

  (2/10)