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)

Review: MATUSALEM 15yo – #49 hit

The company behind this rum introduced Matusalem in 1792 but was forced into exile after Castro gmatusalem-15-yo-gran-reserva-cuban-rum-70cl-40-abvained power in Cuba. In 2001 the brand was relaunched and achieved Double Gold Medal at San Fransisco World Spirits Competition in 2008. I am not as overly enthusiastic about this rum as most people are. It reminds me of the 21 year old Malecon; predominated by toasted flavors, a bit dry and spicy and with an oaky finish. As this might sound good my biggest concern is its lack of character which makes it come across as a bit indifferent.

VERDICT: Despite all the fine medals and reviews this rum has received I have yet to call it a personal favorite.

  (6.3/10)

Review: PLANTATION 20th Anniversario – #28 hit

Okay I admit, this review is extremely biased by the fact that I am a complete sucker for coconuts. When that is said, I still believe that most people would enjoy this rum (unless you don’t like coconuts of course). Let me start by clearing something out this is NOT a 20 year old rum as many mistake it to be. The 20th refer to the number of years Alexandre Gabriel had been president and owner of Cognac Ferrand. The rum itself has Plantation barbados 20“only” matured around 10 years in bourbon casks and then about 2 years in Pierre Ferrand – Grande Champagne – Cognac Casks. Not surprisingly it enters with waves of sweet coconuts almost concealing everything else. At the same time your mouth is coated with brown sugar while traces of vanilla, orange marmalade and cinnamon linger on the palate. This is coconut rum at its best! The only concern I have is that it becomes too sweet if you drink too much (which I have a bad tendency to do by the way). Therefore I would suggest savoring this in moderate quantities.

VERDICT: This is one of the more sweet coconut rums I have tasted but it still manages to keep within an acceptable range. A must buy for coconut enthusiasts!

  (7.8/10)

Review: BENROMACH 10yo – #68 hit

benromach_10So I finally got around to tasting the last bottle of Benromach I had on my shelf. Having tasted the Organic and Peat Smoke editions I had already grown fond of this very small distillery. I did however expect this one to be a bit less interesting. Indeed, it lacks the character found in the special editions but is definitely still worth the money. Like other Speysides it is malty and sweet and opens up with traditional notes of citrus and pepper. Hints of orange peel also appear along with caramel and mild vegetal notes. I tried adding a bit of water which really worked to its advantage. I like it despite its lacking complexity and even though it is nothing extraordinary it still rises above most 12 year old or less single malts available on the market.

VERDICT: A good traditional Speyside.

  (5.6/10)