Review: BALVENIE 12yo Doublewood – #6 hit

Orange peel, sherry, vanilla, lemon, and honey well balanced by woody extracts are what you can expect from this very sweet single malt. Given the fact that the 12 year old Balvenie has matured in both traditional oak casks and also Spanish oak sbalvenie_doublewoodherry casks it comes as no surprise that both notes of sweet bourbon and sherry appear in the background. Eventually the oak fades away giving room for sweetness in form of traditional vanilla and dried fruits. Even though I would not characterize this whisky as packing a punch it definitely leaves a bite on the finish that for some people would be a bit too much. In my younger days when I was into sweet whiskies this was one of my favorites. Now I am not overly enthusiastic about it. Still it is a good dram if you are in the earlier years of whisky discovery and tend to like sweetness instead of peat.

VERDICT: A rewarding single malt of you are into whiskies with good balance between oak and sweetness. Personally I find it lacks texture and packs a punch compared to many other 12 year old whiskies and I am not that keen about the taste. But hey, I am not a big Highland fan so I would not be discouraged if this is your favorite scotch region!


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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).