Review: CONTESSA RUM – #47 hit

I picked this one up in New Delhi airport. The salesman was very convincing and told me that it was the best rum in Incontessadia. Apparently the competition cannot be that high because Contessa Rum is nothing spectacular. Also the label seems to be a bit outdated since it boasts “Gold 1972 medal, Monde Selection”. A lot has happened since 1972! However, this rum has actually won a Bronze medal at the IWSC 2007 and silver at Monde Selection 2008. I can’t really see why though. I guess if you see past its harshness there is a nice flavor of roasted raisins. It also finishes of with a bit earthiness and nuts mixed with a touch of tobacco. All in all a mildly below average experience.

VERDICT: I have certainly learned one thing from tasting Contessa Rum and that is: NEVER believe a salesperson, especially not in New Delhi airport. Oh well I guess it was worth 7 quids to taste the best rum in India.

  (6.2/10)

Review: ANGOSTURA 1919 – #46 hit

What is all the rave about?Angostura 1919

I had heard so many praising words about this Trinidad rum.  Naturally I had to have it. However, the regrets that followed have led me to wonder whether or not there is something wrong with my taste buds!

It started off good on the nose. Then after having had a sip or two the disappointment came over me. There was something missing. Heaps of delicious vanilla flushes over you yes -in accordance with the nose – but not much else. This is really a shame. You can vaguely discern notes of oak, cocoa, and some exotic spices underneath the bed of vanilla and this gives Angostura 1919 some complexity that it desperately needs, but not nearly enough.

VERDICT: Having tasted Angostura 1919 I was once again reminded about the subjectivity of taste. I do not share the popular opinion about this rum primarily because I find it extremely one dimensional. That said, the vanilla do dominate the palate in a very delicious way. There is no arguing in that. So if you are searching for a simple and light rum this one may be worth checking out.

  (6.8/10)

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)

Review: BOWMORE 12yo – #3 hit

Straight out of the shores of Loch Indaal the 12 year old Bowmore comes from one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Back in 1999 when I just started to get into scotch I got this bottle as a present. I had never tasted Islay whisky before and I remember that I was not overly impressed at that time. I was more into sweet whiskies like Dalwhinnie and Balvenie. Apparently I was not ready for it back then Bowmore 12but over the years smoky whiskies started to appeal more and more to me. I have a Bowmore now and then especially some of the more aged whiskies. That said I still prefer Laphroaig and Ardbeg over any other Islay single malts.

This single malt is filled with maritime flavors that slowly develop in your mouth. Most dominant are smoke, salt, seaweed, and there is also hints of sherry. I find it a very good traditional Islay single malt that don’t impress you too much with neither complexity nor smoothness.

VERDICT: A good Islay that stands its ground with a tsunami of maritime flavors. Despite its lack of complexity and smoothness I have a sweet spot for this dram, maybe primarily because it has been with me for so long.

(6/10)

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!

  (5.7/10)

Review: GLEN GARIOCH 1797 Founder’s Reserve – #69 hit

I very rarely buy a whisky without knowing anything about it and when I do it is usually as a gift. This was the case with Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s reserve. I had never heard about Glen Garioch before but when I saw it on huge discoGlen Gariochunt some time ago I thought this is exactly what my dad is going to get for his birthday. I’ve tried giving him more excusive whiskies before without luck. I guess they have been too refined for his palate given that he always returns to his Famous Grouse. Anyways he was not especially keen about this one either and I tend to agree with him on this one.

My first impression was slight disappointment. It felt harsh and one dimensional with a high presence of white pepper. The finish is also very short. The appearance of green fruits and vanilla are altogether vague with citrus being most discernible. Heather also comes through at the end but without any lasting impact. At this price, with or without discount, I believe you can get a much better gift.

VERDICT: Altogether a bit dull and one dimensional! As there is not much complexity in this dram it is a shame to see so high concentration of white pepper. Together with the alcoholic punch It really deafens any notes of fruit and sweetness that might be present.

(5/10)

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)