Review: RUM COMPANY Aficionado – #78 hit

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.rum_company_aficionado

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!

  (9/10)

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Review: BUSHMILLS 16yo – #77 hit

While being the oldest licensed distillery in the world – granted by King James I in 1608 – the Old Bushmills Distillery is also the only operating whiskey distillery left in Northern Ireland. You would think that having 406 years in mastering the art of whiskey-making would generate pretty damn good whiskey!?  bushmills 16

I want to start off by stating that I SIMPLY LOVE the 16 year old Bushmills! I think it had me even before I opened the bottle with its mouthwatering text, “Aged in oloroso sherry and bourbon casks, then finished in port wine casks for a combination of rich fruitiness and malty nutiness”. I must stress however that this Irish Single Malt is not for everyone. I have had friends that were not too impressed with the taste. You may argue that they weren’t “experienced” enough but in the end it all comes down to the subjectivity of taste. Personally I have never come across a whisk(e)y like this (or even close). Like with all unique flavor profiles you either love it or hate it.

What makes the 16 year old Bushmills so special in my opinion is the remarkable synergy that has been achieved by combining two completely different flavor profiles. On the one hand you have mahogany wood, earthiness and Hazelnuts. Then on the other you have black currents, caramel, fudge, peaches and hints of vanilla. All these different notes work so well together and form an extraordinary experience. On top of all this the finish is very very very long.

VERDICT: Not many whiskeys can boast about being matured in three different casks. The end result is a very unique whiskey with a myriad of flavors were you get the best from both worlds. The Bushmills 16yo does not get the attention it deserves in my opinion and I can highly recommend it.

  (8.3/10)

Review: GREEN SPOT – #76 hit

For a long time Green Spot and Redbreast were the only two Single Pot Still (SPS) whiskeys commercially available. However the interest in SPS whiskeys has been growing and in 2011 Powers John’s Lane and Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy joined this exclusive club. SPS whiskey uses a mixed mash of malted barley and unmalted green barley that are tripled distilled. Since this process is very different to the making of Single Malt whisky you would expect a completely different end product. This is also the case.Green Spot

If you were to place all the worlds whiskies on a “flavor map” Green Spot would be far away from the rest. Some would probably also mistake it for being something completely else than whiskey; it is THAT different. It is one of those drams you either love or hate.

I love Green Spot but it took me some time to get used to the unusual taste. If I were to describe its complexity in one sentence it would be “a whiskey filled with vegetal notes”. More specifically barley, green grass and citrus fruits. At the same time various spices and cereal flavors appear on the palate. The combination works well and considering it is a below 10yo whiskey it is surprisingly smooth (even for a triple distilled).

VERDICT: You want to try this SPS whiskey if you are ready to try something completely different to what you are used to. It cannot be compared to Redbreast or anything else I have tried but is very good nonetheless. Price is also reasonable around 60-70$.

  (7.6/10)

Review: BUFFALO TRACE – #71 hit

“One of the world’s great whiskies”. – Jim Murray

I am a sucker for intriguing advertisements so when I noticed Jim Murray’s statement on a Buffalo Trace bottle the other day I had no choice but to buy it. A “great” whiskey for measly 30 bucks is not something I am likely to walk away from. Luckily so. It appears as if Jim was right again, this is truly a “great” bourbon. I would actually go as far as to say it is one of tBuffalo Tracehe best bourbons I have tasted yet! I am far from alone in my infatuation as Buffalo Trace has won multiple medals throughout the years most recently receiving a Double Gold Rating at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2012. Its success is also illustrated by the size of the distillery. To date the Buffalo Trace Distillery site encompasses 119 acres and, impressively, 114 buildings.

The first thing I liked about Buffalo Trace, and maybe least important, was its name. A whiskey that is named after the migration path of thousands of buffalos from the 18th century is just awesome in itself. Secondly, and more importantly, the taste of Buffalo Trace is exquisite! It is much more on the sweet side than most whiskeys but still manage to keep under the sugar-overload-threshold (In contrast to Bourbons like Red Stag and Jim Beam Honey). Caramel is filling most of the picture here accompanied by candied vanilla and hints of orange fruit and green grass. There is good balance in this whiskey and I have to restrain myself from continuously filling the empty glass.

VERDICT: Agreed, this is absolutely one of the world’s great whiskies. It is sweet, creamy, caramel like and yet combines the sugary notes with citrus and orange fruits in a divine manor. This is one of those whiskies I could easily drink half a bottle of and still not get enough. At 30 dollars a bottle this is a steal. Instant favorite.

  (7.7/10)

Review: DALWHINNIE 15yo – #1 hit

This whisky has great sentimental value to me. It was the first Single Malt I ever bought and also – as far as Idalwhinnie-15-year-old can remember – the first I had the pleasure to taste. Back then I loved it. I do believe that my affection at that time was probably more based on limited experience than the actual flavor. However, one of the main reasons to why I loved Dalwhinnie was my preference for sweet and honeyed whiskies. Peat was not in my vocabulary yet. Given that the 15 year old Dalwhinnie delivers an abundance of honey-sweetness and dried tropic fruits, there is no wonder I liked it so much. Oak is also present giving it a good balance.

I would like to think that my taste has been refined since then but then again maybe there has just been a change in preference (towards more peated whiskies). Either way I currently find this dram rather average and a bit too dull for my taste.

VERDICT: A moderately good dram that would satisfy people preferring more sweet whiskies. Woody notes also appear together with a tingy bite on the finish.

  (5.5/10)

Review: CHABANNEAU XO – #70 hit

I had never heard about Chabanneau Cognac before I received this XO as a present some time ago. Then I realized that supposedly this XO was the best selling cognac in Europe. This really came as a surprise to me. Having tasted it now I believe its popularity is more due to the price rather than taste…CHABANNEAU _XO

Although not one of my favorites Chabanneau XO is still a very well crafted traditional Cognac. Traditional in the sense that you have the well known – and very welcomed – soft entry of toffee, vanilla and wood. Later toasted marshmallows appear on the palate together with even more vanilla. Altogether it is more sweet than oaky. There is not much to jump up and down about here because, as I mentioned, the flavor is more common than unique. Still it is a decent XO at not a too steep price.

VERDICT: Very smooth and traditional flavors, nothing surprising here. As a whole it is more on the sweet than oaky side. The low price also makes it attractive and I would recommend it if you just need a plain Cognac and are not out to impress anyone.

  (6.6/10)

Review: HIGHLAND PARK 18yo – #39 hit

I have never been a huge fan of Highland Single Malts. Maybe because I am a devoted Islay man and crossing its boarders feels like cheating on the perfect woman. Anyways, if I were to be promiscuous it would be with an 18 year old….Highland Phighland-park-18yoark!

A dilemma often encountered by distillers is that too much aging will give the whisky a very dominating flavor of oak. On the other hand the aging can smoothen out some of the edges. Highland Park 18yo succeeds walking this very thin line and they have created a dram that perfectly combines very distinguishable woody notes with citrus, vanilla and butterscotch. The experience finishes off with just a tad of peaty smoke and all the rough edges, which appeared in the 12 year edition, are gone. Very Enjoyable!

VERDICT: Good balance between oak and sweet notes like vanilla and butterscotch. Its age also makes this Highland dram silky smooth which also makes it much more attractive than its younger brothers.

  (7.5/10)