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Dailuaine 1998, 14 year by Duncan Taylor Dimensions Batch 001

My first encounter with Dailuaine was from a Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) bottling of it, 41.47 – Bentley in Zanzibar. I recall that dram being ridiculously amazing. One of the best that I’ve ever had. It was only 7 years old and bottled at cask strength. Still, it contained aromas and a flavor profile that I’ve been searching over and over for.

The Society recently came out with a President’s choice bottling of Dailuaine, and like most of their picks, was bought out faster than I could react. So, it was great news to find that Duncan Taylor put out another cask… and that one of my favorite local retailers, K&L, received an allocation to sell. At the time of this post, they are long sold out. Looking online, however, Master of Malt and The Whisky Club have them in stock.

Anyways, how did this taste…in a word, Splendid.

The nose on this is fantastic. It’s got those typical fruity and floral notes that I associate with an ex-Bourbon Speysider. Bottled at a respectable 46%, inhaling is effortless. I can’t get enough; I’m tempted to spill some on my pillow case with the hopes that it will add Zen to my sleep. I’m reminded of almond jello and  fancy, vanilla frosted cakes.

Coating the tongue with this stuff is a delight. It’s malty and sweet. Liquid honey. The finish is about medium length; I wish they’d bottle this with a higher ABV. Oh well. I’m left with apple pie breath – I’m not complaining.

I give this a solid B.

Kilchoman 4 year old for Single Cask Nation – Cask 378/07

I finally got my hands on the initial whisky release from Single Cask Nation and as a Founding member, boy, was it a wait (2/20/12 was when I signed up)…. but ultimately worth it.

Truth be told, I had the option to pick as my first bottle the 4 year old Kilchoman or the 12 year old Arran. And as much as I like both distilleries, I just had to go with the former.

Anyways, nosing the Kilchoman 4 year old is pleasurable. The label says 58.4% ABV, but I can’t really tell. My nose hairs aren’t singed. Still, it has the typical, sweet aroma. There’s notes of lemon pine sol, vanilla, cereal grain, wet leather shoe laces, and fresh peat. That peat becomes very apparent on the palate. There’s also hints of used tires. As this scotch goes down my gullet, my tongue remains coated which seems like forever. It’s always in the end where the cask strength character shines.

Delicious. I’m going to pour myself another.

Initial grade: A- / B+

Link: Single Cask Nation

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2012 – Best Whisky of 2012

Last year, I had the pleasure and good fortune to attend an LA Scotch Club tasting with Kilchoman founder, Anthony Wills. It was great times had by all, and since then, I’ve been keen to try every publicly-released expression (and even some exclusive bottlings) from that distillery. And you know what? They’re all fantastic!

However, with pretty much every expression accessible to me, I always find myself gravitating to Kilchoman’s standard, Machir Bay. I find it an extremely well-balanced dram that I can spend quite a bit of time nosing and enjoying.

Though it is a vatting of some young-ish (3-, 4-, and 5-year old) whiskies (some fools will look down on this), the quality in ingredients, process, barrels, and some magic potion truly makes this a remarkable malt (and have converted some of those aforementioned fools to fanatics).

Comprised of spirits aged in ex-bourbon casks and finished in oloroso sherry butts, this single malt exhibits a complexity on the nose and the palate that I can’t recall from any other scotches that I had in recent times.

Bottled at 46% ABV, nosing this whisky is a breeze. I get floral notes like hay and freshly-cut grass. There’s also some fruity tangerine, pine sol lemon, and Asian candy with Xylitol. Being from Islay, of course there’s the earthy peat. It’s a bit medicinal but not overwhelming.

Sipping it, there’s no doubt that Machir Bay is a savory, dry whisky. There’s hints of chocolate. Still, it’s all overshadowed by the peat and other goodness. I think that the 92 proof this whisky is bottled at is perfect. It allows a plethora of flavors to develop while allowing the finish to linger for a good amount of time.

Relating this to a life experience, it’s like visiting a moderately-packed county fair, complete with a farm animal petting zoo.

With a street price of around $50 a bottle, I give this a solid A grade.

Locally, it can be found at K&L and Total Wine.

Link: Kilchoman

Caol Ila 10 year old by Berry Bros and Rudd – Casks 309796 and 309881

I was at Total Wine the other day to replenish my whisky stock when I came across this 10 year old Caol Ila bottled by famed wine and spirits merchants, Berry Bros and Rudd. At a penny under $70, it represented an outstanding deal, especially for a cask strength (58.5%) from one of my favorite distilleries.

I love the natural, pale color. Just looking at it, I prepped for fruity (pears or apple) and vanilla notes, which I got on the nose. I also experienced unlit match sticks, cardboard, permanent marker fumes, and hay. The initial taste was a bit harsh which is expected for such a young and cask strength whisky. Letting it interact with the air for a bit, this dram did mellow out some. Still, it was one of the savoriest Caol Ilas that I’ve ever had. There was a lot of peat that coated the tongue, and it took forever for the alcohol to evaporate – ultra long long finish.

I gave it a B rating. It’s definitely worth picking up, especially for the price.

Link: Caol Ila

Kirkland Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky 20 year Sherry Cask Finish

December 22, 2012 Drinking, Speyside 4 Comments

A few weeks ago, I picked up this reasonably-priced Kirkland Signature 20 year old Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky from the local Costco. Bottled by Alexander Murray, I am curious to know why they did not list the name of the distiller, like the 15 year old The Macallan that they currently have on the shelves. I’m going to guess that it’s from Glenmorangie. Anyways…

Bottled at 40% abv, nosing this scotch is easy and pleasurable. There is no alcohol burn at all. Instead, I smell gingerbread cupcakes and freshly-baked fruit tarts. On the palate, it is very malty, and slightly sweet. A bit one-note. However, its redeeming feature is that it is smooth, really smooth. There is no bite at all. The finish is very short.

Overall, this is a decent dram, especially at the price point. I give it a B-/C+.

Alexander Murray