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)

Review: ARDBEG 10yo – #11 hit

At 46% abv. & non chill-filtered this whisky is supposed to be the peatiest, smokiest and most complex single malt in the world. If I hadn’t tasted or heard about Ardbeg before I would have regarded this as pure bragging. I guess it is still bragging but maybe in a justified kind of way? I mean guys like Jim Murray can’t be wrong. Can they?

If we get a bit nerdy we find out that Ardbeg is far from the most peaty whisky available on the market. As you might know the peating level is expressed as phenols in PPM. The 10 year old Ardbeg contain a phenol level of 52+ PPM whereas the 5 year old Octomore Edition 5.169 of Bruichladdish reach an impressively 169 PPM. Hence there is no question that Octomore claim first place in the smoke category (with at least four different editions). To Ardbeg’s defense the Supernova edition is next in line with 100 PPM. Still you can find Speyside, Campbelltown and Irish whiskies with higher phenol levels than the 10 year old bottling of Ardbeg.ardbeg-10

Nonetheless this dram is very close to perfection. While the wide range of smoky flavors develop in my mouth I picture myself standing on a shore with waves coming in with oily remnants entangled in dark brown seaweed. It IS a smokebomb compared to other Islays like Laphroaig which makes perfectly sense given that the most peated Laphroaig (10yo edition) contain 40-43 PPM phenols. It is not all about smoke and peat though. There is a freshness to it emerging as sea salt and different grassy notes. You also find traces of vanilla and citrus vaguely appearing at the end. The finish is short and there is a moderate after-bite which in my opinion is neglectable.

VERDICT: There isn’t anything not to love about this whisky. The finish may be a bit too short but I don’t think this ruins the experience. Is it the most complex dram in the world? I think this is hard to say, especially considering that I have a long way to go before I’ve tasted all the whiskies out there! At this point I will leave this question to the experts.

  (8/10)